A persistent fear of police is nothing new to me or any other black man in America. But there are no words to describe the pain, the fear, and the anger that has gripped me over the past several months.
Much of my work is focused on ensuring young people of color have access to the resources needed to succeed—good schools, quality health care, and strong families. But Mike Brown was already on the path to success, he was on the verge of entering college, and no amount of education or healthcare or family support could have saved him. Simply put, we cannot ensure the success of people of color — particularly young men of color — when they are constantly repressed, abused and in many cases, or murdered by those in positions of authority. But police departments and other institutions are large, complex, and resistant to change. Many of the things we know should happen we are told are infeasible or unrealistic. Yet, some police departments have adopted policies and practices that have clearly reduced and, in some cases, stopped the shooting and killing of people in our communities.
Beyond Confrontation: Community-Centered Policing Tools, a new series of briefs by PolicyLink and Advancement Project, lifts these solutions up in a comprehensive way. The series provides real-world examples of policies and practices that are possible, proven, and in many cases simple to implement in any community. Here are some examples:
- “No Hands On” policy: Las Vegas police in pursuit can no longer physically apprehend suspects. As a result, use of force has dropped by 48 percent.
- Extensive training: Each year, Richmond, CA, police undergo 12 firearm trainings and four role-playing scenarios. As a result, there have been less than one officer-involved shooting per year for the past seven years.
- Transparency: Every year, Las Vegas police publish the age, gender, race and armed/unarmed status of every person shot by police as well as info on the officers involved.
Certainly the police departments implementing these solutions are by no means models of equitable policing. 70 percent of unarmed people killed by Las Vegas police over the past several years, for example, are black men. And Richmond police department's record of not killing anyone in seven years was recently shattered when a Richmond police officer shot and killed 24-year-old Richard Perez on September 14, 2014. But what these and other police departments do are offer tangible solutions that — if promoted by communities and adopted by police departments across the nation — will bring us closer to the goal of not one more person killed by police.