With each month we hear another disturbing and disheartening story of excessive force and racial profiling involving our police department. While there are many dedicated officers on the force who truly work to protect and serve, if we do not take a systemic approach to solving the problem of police misconduct, we will perpetuate the culture of fear that too many people of color are currently living under.
Many changes are required to solve the problem. However, I believe that if police officers continue to feel immune from consequence regardless of the severity of their behavior, any change will fall short of a true solution. For this reason we must have true police accountability:
Strengthen Civilian Oversight
The Community Police Commission has made good recommendations that we should implement, including the need to end the practice of the police department policing itself through its Discipline Review Board (DRB). The DRB is over-represented with police management who consistently fail to hold misbehaving officers accountable. The DRB should be eliminated in favor of a more reliable disciplinary body with independent civilian review.
Protect Freedom of Speech for Black Lives Matter Protesters
Police surveillance of protesters, including improper photographing or videotaping of legal demonstrations or protests must be curtailed.
No New Youth Jail
Community members have been consistent in their opposition to a new youth jail in their community, and yet the proposed $210 million facility is still moving forward. City hall is not listening. Ending the school to prison pipeline starts by putting our money where our mouths are, and investing in restorative justice and community driven efforts to end youth incarceration in the first place. We know these investments work, because in recent years dentition levels have dropped as diversion strategies have been expanded. A recent study shows that the existing youth detention facility in the Central District could be fully rehabilitated for about one million dollars. Not only would spending the remaining hundreds of millions of dollars on these alternatives send a clear message about our values, it reaffirms what we know works for our community.