The death of George Floyd in May 2020 placed pressure on police departments across the country to reform. However, this sort of reform requires a holistic, long-term approach based on the needs of a community. It can’t be done overnight, nor should it be an all or nothing attempt. This section unpacks the different types of policing, alternative uses of force, and steps necessary to improve the community and police relations.
Among the increasing turmoil, frustration, and friction between communities and police departments, It’s clear that we need to step back and look our current policing system. What is working? And what’s not working? What are the root causes to the issues we are facing and what can we do to fix them?
Some departments, such as the Norristown Police Department, are actively implementing a community policing approach, to strengthen ties and restore trust with the local community.
The Ridley Police Department, are having their officers undergo Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu martial arts training as a form of self-defense against violent offenders in lieu of immediately turning to weapons.
The Miami-Dade Police Departments recognized there was a mental health issue within their communities and overall criminal justice system and sought changes in their approach to policing.
According to the Eleventh Judicial Court of Florida in Miami-Dade County,” Roughly 9.1% of the population (more than 210,000 individuals) experience SMI [severe mental health issues], yet fewer than 13% of these individuals receive care in the public mental health system.}
They established the “Eleventh Judicial Circuit Criminal Mental Health Project” to train officers on how to calmly recognize and peacefully resolve a situation involving a person with severe mental health issues. The goal of this project is to “divert nonviolent misdemeanant defendants with serious mental illnesses (SMI) or co-occurring SMI and substance use disorders, from the criminal justice system into community-based treatment and support services.”
While there is a lot of work to be done within the hearts and minds of individuals across the country to fix racial injustice and inequality in our police and criminal justice system, change can begin within your local communities.