Beyond Confrontation: Community-Centered Policing Tools

> Mayoral Pledge

Mayoral Pledge to End Police Violence

In cities across America, neighborhoods populated by people of color—places where residents strive to live, learn, work, play, and pray in peace and harmony—are being treated as military combat zones by local law enforcement. Youth of color—particularly Black youth—who should be growing up in supportive, affirming environments are instead presumed to be criminals and relentlessly subjected to aggressive police tactics that result in community mistrust, unnecessary fear, needless arrests that often have long term financial and human collateral consequences, injuries, and countless deaths. 

Michael Brown, an unarmed Black teen shot multiple times and killed by a Ferguson, Missouri police officer, is just one of 93 known unarmed Black men and boys who died at the hands of police in 2014. The pattern of systemic racial bias is too frequent to be a coincidence. 

Mayors are in a unique position to take leadership in transforming how police departments interact with their communities. The customizable template below consists of a mayoral pledge with important principles and actions that model community-centered policing. Concerned citizens should organize and urge the mayors of their communities to sign the pledge and take proactive and bold leadership to build community trust and help prevent police violence against communities.

Police violence is an urgent problem in our city. In 2014, at least [# of civilians] were killed by police in [name of city], [#] of whom were [Black/Latino/etc.]. It is time for our city to take action to minimize the chance of further deaths of people of color at the hands of police.

I, Mayor [name of mayor] of [name of city], commit to a new vision of public safety based on trust, legitimacy, accountability, respect, and the sanctity of all lives. I pledge to immediately take the following actions to end the police violence epidemic and help ensure that NOT ONE MORE person unjustly dies at the hands of our police force:

  1. Ensure Police Are Accountable to the Community: Police departments are funded by the public and should be accountable to the public. Therefore, our police department will not investigate itself, but will instead establish enforceable, impartial accountability measures in instances where police brutality, racial profiling, and/or improper use of force are in question. This includes establishing effective and independent review boards broadly representative of the community, not just police interests. The actions, investigations, and publication of all relevant information, evidence, and policy recommendations of the review boards will be transparent and publicly accessible. Our police department will also ensure that data and summary information relating to suspected police brutality and racial profiling are properly collected and made publicly available.
  2. Invest in Rigorous and Sustained Training:  Documented studies demonstrate that implicit racial biases influence how officers interact with community members and suspects, and that these perceptions and behaviors can be deadly. Law enforcement personnel will be required to undergo racial bias training in addition to building skills that exemplify problem-solving strategies, conflict mediation techniques, de-escalation tactics, and understanding mental health considerations. Training programs offered by community-based organizations will be prioritized. Officers will become adept at being responsive to community needs and voices, and achieving consistency and continuity in engaging community while enforcing the law.
  3. Ensure Police Reflect and Respect the Community: Police department personnel should be representative of the communities they protect and serve. Therefore, our police department will adopt personnel practices that result in the hiring and retention of diverse law enforcement professionals who are culturally sensitive, speak the communities’ languages, and are residents of their patrolled communities. The police department will implement and monitor diversity hiring and retention guidelines to further community trust and partnerships.
  4. Preserve Life and Avoid Excessive Force: Police will only use force in a manner that preserves the lives and safety of all residents of our community. Police department personnel will do everything in their power to de-escalate situations and use alternatives to deadly force. The police department will not rely on military equipment and tactics—including the use of SWAT teams—to police everyday problems or peaceful protests. We will reject the transfer of military equipment into our police departments and seek to return or otherwise eliminate existing military weaponry in our inventory.
  5. Use Technology for Oversight While Protecting Privacy:  Pending community approval through a democratic process, our police department will implement body cameras and/or other technology that helps to investigate and hold officers accountable for misconduct, such as profiling due to a person’s race, class, religion, gender, housing status, physical or mental ability, or sexual orientation. The technology will only be used when legitimately apprehending suspects with probable cause, and information gathered by the use of technology related to police violence will be made publicly accessible immediately.
  6. End the criminalization of communities of color: We will de-prioritize and, where possible, decriminalize the enforcement of non-violent ‘quality of life’ or ‘broken-windows’ offenses that frequently consume too many resources and end up criminalizing too many young people. We will eliminate police department quotas and reduce municipal fines and fees to remove financial incentives for police officers to focus on minor offenses.
  7. Shift Public Investment to Communities: Our city’s over-policed communities are the same neighborhoods most in need of infrastructure improvements, access to healthy food, affordable housing and transportation choices, good jobs, and important city amenities. The city budget will reflect a shift toward providing essential services to these communities. Further, each and every city department, such as Housing, Community Development, Transportation, Planning, Parks and Recreation, and Public Works, will take responsibility for—and work together to improve—public safety.

 

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[Signature of Mayor]

 

CLICK HERE to download a .pdf of the pledge.

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