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A Comprehensive Solution to the Many Problems Associated with Modern Policing.

Updated on June 23, 2020
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Michelle Lynn is a paralegal journalist who conducts ADA audits on government facilities and focuses on correcting compliance issues.

The militarization of modern police

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How to Fix the Many Problems with Modern Policing

POLICE REFORM

This document is a suggestion of how to implement much needed police reforms across the nation and especially in high crime areas in order to help reduce crime, police violence and to improve the over-all human condition.

BEST POLICIES

Many of the suggestions in this memo come from things that successful communities are already doing, things that were done in the past that have been abandoned and the implementation of new technologies and ideas to bring policing into the modern era.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM

While implementing these changes, we must also investigate the criminal justice system as a whole and re-evaluate laws that break down communities and create a system of poverty through over-incarceration and how we can better serve individuals and communities as a whole.

COMMUNITY RESOURCES

Defunding the police has been an ill-defined wake-up call from many people. Some want reform, others want defunding and reallocation, while some are calling for the abolition of police altogether and still others believe that police should have even more powers, responsibility and discretion than they already have: “Crack their heads” policies.

TOOLS AND WEAPONS

This essay will address tools and technology that works in other fields that have not been employed by local departments that could serve as crime prevention tools and/or criminal apprehension without violence tools.

ACCOUNTABILITY
This essay will address who should be accountable, for what and by whom.

In the modern era of policing, everyone has cameras on their phones so we have a unique opportunity to see in real time what is happening on the streets and more importantly, how government officials (ie the police) are responding to it. It gives us a tool to evaluate police involvement, in hind-sight and take that into the future with better ideas and implementations.

There are several common things that seem to be happening independently that work together to create the proverbial “Perfect storm.”

Private prisons, militarization of police, lack of accountability and the war on drugs are the predominant factors of all things considered. Communities expect cops to be the end-all-be-all go to guys for every problem under the sun from parking tickets to terrorist attacks. Who can possibly train for every possible situation? It is not humanly possible and communities have forgotten that cops are…human.

A badge does not automatically make someone Superman nor does it automatically cause him or her to have a great character or any less of a depraved heart than the statistics show for the rest of society.

As it currently stands, society has made it impossible for cops to treat the badge as a job. It is unfair to the officers and it is unfair to the community when over-worked officers get burned out and become out-of- touch with their communities and then patrol those communities for 12 and 16 hour shifts, with guns and the discretion to take someone’s life.

Most jobs are required to provide workers with a 15 minute break every 2 hours and a lunch break during an 8 hour shift.

While it is true that a cop can schedule his or her own time on his or her shift to eat or get out of the car and walk around any time he or she chooses, cops are still being burned out by being allowed or even required to work these long hours. Even when a cop is at lunch or pumping gas or doing any other activity, it is impossible for him or her to actually get a break during his or her shift because people see the uniform and approach them no matter what they are doing.

This is a huge problem for the burn-out factor and to top it off, cops take their cars home with them and many departments require cops to carry their service weapons while they are off duty. This not only ensures that the cop is never off-duty but it also ties up resources by creating a need for more vehicles because equipment is not being shared in the organization. A car parked in front of someone's home is not out on the streets serving its function.

This is doubly dangerous for the community because of the psychological impact it has on the officer. Cops have a higher than average divorce and suicide rate because of this and, cops develop an acquired form of ADD after hearing horror stories all day, every day. It is also human nature to develop a cynicism about people and society when everyone you talk to every day not only has a story and a complaint—but they also have a lie. No one is ever guilty of anything if you ask them. It is only natural for the brain to start tuning things out and to become suspicious of everyone you contact.

Couple this with the policy that cops are taught to lie to citizens in order to get the job done ie. to get a conviction—the end does not always justify the means. It makes it that much easier for people to justify lying when it is not appropriate to do so.

Compound this with the fact that most people socialize exclusively with the people that they work with when they are not working—departments, at the behest of society, have made it impossible for cops to wind down and debrief. Cops, just like everyone else, associate with other police when they are not working. They go to police events and talk about police stuff. This creates a disconnect between the police and the larger community. It creates an "Us" and "Them" frame of reference.

The thin blue line and the blue brotherhood of police creates a literal blue curtain that makes it easy for a 25 year-old man to throw an 80 year old woman to the ground without considering her fragility--and the blue line justifies it because they have each others back. Only another cop truly understands and they certainly want officers to show up when they need back-up keeping the community safe, even if they have to kill the citizens to do it.

Meanwhile, cops have the highest rate of suicide, divorce and alcoholism of any group. When someone's job is to tell people what to do and that person is always on duty, and has the power, authority and back-up to always be right, it is human nature to become a control freak. When that job includes violence as a means to control, then that person becomes a violent control freak in his or her personal life even outside the work environment. This is basic classic conditioning and is re-affirmed by the Stanford experiment. Absolute power corrupts...Absolutely.

After 911, many departments started training officers with the warrior mentality. They are at war andf the citizens are the enemy combatants.

Departments are tasked with investigating themselves which creates a financial conflict of interest:


If the Internal Affairs finds that the officer did something that the department can be held civilly liable for, it costs the department money (or its insurer who may not pay the entire claim) which then takes money out of the budget for raises, new hires and equipment upgrades. It is not in the department’s best interest to find its officers guilty of violations. When the insurance doesn't pay the claim, the tax paying community is on the hook for the balance. The officer almost always has qualified immunity and cannot be held personally liable in most cases.


The District Attorneys also have a conflict of interest in prosecuting officers because this could lead to prior convictions being over-turned in cases where the officer was the primary witness. The DA also enjoys qualified immunity but for the voters.


Yet, every dollar that is spent creates an opportunity cost. Local governments are forced to decide how much is allocated to certain budgets, when and where. In many cases, the budgets for police departments are supplemented by the federal government for drug busts and civil forfeiture. In order to keep the community at large feeling “Safe”, local governments set aside large portions of their budgets for policing. It is a vicious cycle—in order to get better funding, more people must be busted and the more people who are busted require a larger force to deal with which creates the need for more busts…

In addition to this, the state prison system and the federal government hold contracts with private companies to build prisons and house prisoners. In these contracts, the prisons are guaranteed a 90 percent fill rate. In order to meet those demands, people must be arrested and convicted of crimes. This creates a further demand for over-policing, especially in poor neighborhoods where the residents cannot afford private attorneys to represent them in criminal cases.

The impact this has on the community is both psychologically and financially devastating. The psychological impact is that no matter what someone does, he or she is going to be wrong and wrongly convicted—his or her life literally does not matter. The financial impact is that it takes providers and role models, especially strong male figures out of the community who may otherwise be community leaders to a positive and prosperous end—ensuring that these neighborhoods and demographics remain impoverished and hopeless, all of which contribute to higher rates of crime.


Meanwhile, in the 2014 police strike in New York City, we discovered that less policing not only did not increase crime but crime rates actually went down during the strike. This would indicate a direct correlation to over-policing and crime rates.


There are many things that could be done that have been shown to significantly improve the conditions in these communities and reduce crime more efficiently.


LAWS AND POLICIES MUST BE CHANGED

1) The state and federal governments must end their contracts with the prison for profit system. This creates an egregious conflict of interest in a free society to imprison people in order to satisfy contracts. Traditionally, jail and prison was viewed as a last resort because it actually cost money to incarcerate people. Today, the United States has the largest prison population of any industrialized nation due to its contracts with the for profit prison industrial complex.

2) The 13th Amendment must be amended to eliminate the clause that makes slavery legal. This clause provides prisons the ability to hire out its inmates for pennies on the dollar to for profit companies which is not only bad for the inmates but it is bad for the economy in general because it is taking jobs away from people on the streets.

3) The war on drugs must be re-evaluated and drugs must be viewed as a medical condition rather than a criminal offense. Rather than take people to jail when they are under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol, we must take them to a designated independent detox/ rehab center where they can get the help that they need.

A) These rehab centers should function on PACE programs where the individual must actually work his or her way through the program with tangible progress and gradually be released back into society rather than serve their time and be let back out.

B) This must, however, be done within the full rights of habeas corpus and afford the patients full due process in a designated drug court.

C) These facilities must be operated by the state unless a person has insurance and opts to go to a private facility of his or her choice. These facilities should not, however, be outsourced to for profit institutions because then we are back to the same issues confronting us with the prison for profit system.

D) This process must be guaranteed the full rights of HIPAA regulations and the ADA.

4) Late night and no knock warrants must be abolished.

This only makes it more dangerous for everyone involved including officers and civilians who may be served at the wrong address who are also likely to believe that someone is breaking into their homes. When someone is in fear that a burglar is breaking in, it is only natural for that person to take measures to defend him or her self, which poses a greater danger to the officers and usually ends up with the citizen being killed.

5) The Constitution must be upheld and stop-and-frisk must end. This process is dehumanizing and the results not only violate the civil rights of the citizens but at a rate of 1 conviction per 400 stops, it does not generate an effective rate of success to justify these violations.

6) The Constitution must be upheld and civil forfeiture must end—it creates a conflict of interest for the government to take people’s property without due process of law.

7) All non-violent misdemeanors must be issued tickets and NOT be subject to arrest unless so sentenced after a timely court appearance.

A) Any no-shows would then be subject to bench warrants which are arrest-able.

8) ALL USE OF FORCE REPORTS MUST BE INVESTIGATED BY THE NATIONAL GUARD

9) EVERY OFFICER ON SCENE HOLDS AN EQUAL STAKE IN LIABILITY TO EXCESSIVE FORCE COMPLAINTS FOR “FAILURE TO INTERVENE” AND SHALL BE JUST AS GUILTY AS THE BAD ACTOR IF HE OR SHE FAILS TO INTERVENE.


A FOUR TIER PUBLIC SAFETY DEPARTMENT OF CROSS-TRAINED OFFICERS


Each Public Safety Officer Shall Live in the Community Where He or She Serves


Many jurisdictions are finding great success in cross training its police force as EMTs, FIREFIGHTERS as well as POLICE.


In these departments, future officers begin their careers as EMTs and then move to FIRE AND RESCUE and then become POLICE. Although the candidates are not required to progress to the position of police, the officers are required to start off as EMTs.


A 4th tier should be added to this process: COMMUNITY SERVICE OFFICERS. All of these departments should be under the direct supervision of the National Guard and accountable to military courts and tribunals. All training should also be done through the National Guard.


1) Taking this idea and building on it, local governments would re-organize its Public Safety Departments in such a way that every public safety employee is cross trained and can serve assistance to each others department. This not only saves the districts who use this model money but it also saves lives and causes the system to function more efficiently.

2) By restructuring departments to function under one umbrella with the added tier of Community Service Officer, this would give communities more of each officer at any given time, take the weight off of having to work long hours and be constantly on duty, provide a means of upward mobility in which officers are thoroughly trained and actually have to earn the position of police officer through accommodations and promotions—and, it would provide more over-site for the lower tiered Community Service Officers.

A) All personnel would enter the Public Safety Department after completing an EMT degree.

1) Within 6 months, the EMTs would be required to cross train and become certified firefighters who could assist with out of control fires, whether they intended to move up or not.

2) After a period of 1 year on the job as an EMT, the EMT who has completed the fire training program would then apply for any openings into the fire department.

3) Whether accepted as a firefighter or not, the Public Service Officer would then be required to complete the Community Service Officer training:

a) Community Service Officers would primarily function as UNARMED SECURITY OFFICERS on neighborhood patrol.

  1. Officers would be stationed at strategic places and be assigned regular posts to patrol.
  2. Community Service Officers would only have the same arresting powers as a citizen’s arrest congruent with the same powers held by any other class D security officer.
  3. Only a uniformed, on duty Community Service Officer can solicit the services of the armed division of the police in arrests unless the call comes in as a crime of violence. This shall be determined by the 911 operator.
    1. For example:
      The Community Service Officer responds to a call that is or could become violent, he or she would then solicit the armed police to respond.
    2. The Community Service Officer responds to a call where an arrest is required, he or she would then detain the suspect until an armed unit can respond.

b) In addition to functioning as SECURITY OFFICERS the Community Service Officers would also take the responsibility to answer non-violent calls, work traffic crashes and write tickets for misdemeanors and parking violations.

ONLY an armed State Highway Patrol Officer should have the authority to pull over a vehicle for traffic violations and/or write tickets.

c) Community Service Officers would be hired by a private security company such as G4S as a special category and be required to hold personal liability policies in addition to the insurance policies held by the company. Requiring a private company to over-see the Community Service Force would add an extra layer between the Community Service Officers and help to reduce cover-ups and give armed police more incentive to actively investigate Community Service Officer complaints by removing the financial conflict of interest.

Since the private company, not the department is on the hook for damages caused by officers--and private companies are in business to make money, it also gives the private company more incentive to weed out the "Bad apples" before they move on.

d) Within 6 months, the Community Service Officer would be required to register for the Police Certification Program.

e) After serving 1 year as a Community Service Officer, the Public Safety Officer could then apply for an opening with the police.

f) All 4 services, being cross trained could then fill in for any position that his or her training qualifies him or her for on an emergency as-needed basis.

g) Although higher training is required, applying to higher positions is not. If a person likes being a firefighter and does not wish to progress, then he or she is allowed to remain on that tier with provisional requirements to respond to calls for assistance from the other branches of the Public Safety Department.

h) No Public Safety Officer shall work more than an 8 hour shift (Unless actively engaged in a crisis) or a 40 hour work week except in a natural disaster or national emergency.

i) Any Public Safety Officer is allowed to serve as a rover where he or she is needed as long as his or her training has been achieved.

  1. For example: Someone who is qualified to be a police officer can choose to serve as a rover and be scheduled as an EMT one day, a firefighter the next, a Community Service Officer the next and a cop the next day. This will keep the training fresh and provide diversity to the job to help keep burn-out to a minimum.

j) All Public Safety Officers shall have access to the dispatch system to call for back-up and assistance as needed.

SPECIALIZED UNITS

At the tier of armed police, all Public Safety Officers shall have specialized training in addition to general police training. Armed police shall serve the primary function of apprehending criminal suspects.

Text 911 will be made available to all residents to accommodate Deaf and Hard of Hearing citizens as well as to provide a safe means of communication when a victim is trying to hide from a perpetrator.


EACH PUBLIC SAFETY OFFICER SHALL HAVE ONGOING TRAINING IN MARTIAL ARTS AS WELL AS VERBAL JUDO AND DE-ESCALATION TECHNIQUES.

This shall include but not be limited to:

1) Mental Health Officer training

2) Drug, alcohol, stroke and diabetes training—ALL PUBLIC SAFETY OFFICERS SHALL BE EQUIPPED WITH BP MONITORS, DEFIBRILLATORS AND GLUCOSE-METERS AS PART OF THEIR TOOL KIT.

3) CSI training

4) Deaf Culture training—an officer who signs fluently shall be available on each shift.

5) Investigations

6) Skip Tracer Training

7) SWAT

8) WILDLIFE RESCUE

9) PARK RANGER

10) K-9 training

Each specialized group shall be dispatched as the primary where that specialization is required. This shall be determined by the 911 call taker. 911 already does this. When someone calls for a fire, 911 already dispatches the fire department, so it would be easy for the 911 operator to dispatch the appropriate officer to the right call using technology that is already in place.

Each officer must choose one category to specialize in and maintain an ongoing level of training in his or her chosen field. In addition to this specialized training, each officers shall be trained in general principles of policing and Constitutional Law.

Arrest shall be viewed as the last course and least desirable action.

The mindset shall shift from a “Warrior” mentality to a “Guardian” mentality whose goal is to protect and preserve the Constitutional rights of all citizens.

WEAPONS AND TOOLS

1) Tasers and any chemical weapon shall be replaced with CARTRIDGE NETS. It is far more effective to use a wildlife cartridge net on a fleeing suspect than a taser. These nets can be deployed from a farther distance and incapacitate the suspect without causing him or her bodily harm.

2) NO OFFICER SHALL STRIKE ANY SUSPECT WITH ANY PART OF HIS OR HER BODY OR WITH ANY WEAPON. PAIN COMPLIANCE SHALL BE ABOLISHED.

3) Handcuffs shall be replaced with nylon Velcro body straps. It is far more effective to wrap a nylon strap around a suspects arms and body than it is to try holding him or her down in order to free the suspects hands to get cuffs on. Using a long tethered nylon strap that is lined on both sides with Velcro would also give the officer more options of securing the suspect either by wrapping the strap around his or her whole body trapping the arms, or by wrapping the strap around the suspect’s wrists in a hog-tying fashion. The strap could be used on feet and legs as well as hands and arms.

4) HELMET CAMS—each Public Safety Officer shall be provided with a bicycle helmet as part of his or her regular uniform and on the top of each helmet a camera shall be mounted. As it stands, body cams are affixed to the officer’s chest and in addition to falling off, they are often obstructed by hands and clothing. Mounting the cam on top of the helmet would not only add a measure of safety to the officer’s head but it would keep the cam from becoming obstructed in the event of a physical altercation. The camera would record exactly what the officer sees.

  1. These cams should be constantly running for the officers entire shift and be streamed live to the web in real time--available for public consumption just like dispatch traffic.
  2. Any officer whose camera is not functioning shall report to headquarters and get a replacement unit immediately. Failure to do so shall result in a criminal offense.

5) GOGGLES—each Public Safety Officer shall wear goggles as part of his or her uniform in order to protect his or her eyes from particles and or debris including spittle from a combative suspect.

6) INVERTED SHIELDS—the PRONE POSITION SHALL BE OUTLAWED IMMEDIATELY and replaced with the SPREAD EAGLE method. Each officer shall be supplied with an inverted shield with which to hold a suspect down. The shield shall be placed over the suspect’s body and serve as a barrier between the officer and the suspect. This would not only help to incapacitate a combative suspect but it would make it easier to hold the suspect down until he can be controlled—with less possibility of injury to the suspect. In the event that a suspect must be put into the prone position, he or she must be flipped over immediately.

7) GPS MAGNETS—Each unit shall be equipped with a GPS magnet that shall be placed on the back of any vehicle with whom the officer has contact. This will eliminate the need for any high-speed chases.

8) DRONE CAMERAS—Each unit shall be equipped with a drone camera to eliminate the need for high-speed foot chases. This will also reduce the incidents of adrenaline dumps in which bodily functions and mental faculties are reduced to enhance physical stamina. Any officer on an adrenaline dump shall be taken off the call IMMEDIATELY due to the effects of the adrenaline which are counter-productive to effective law enforcement because of tunnel vision and auditory exclusion at which time the officer becomes a liability instead of an asset. Drone cameras will reduce these incidents significantly. Rather than chase the suspect, follow him or her with a drone and share the information with other officers.

9) VESTS—Any officer found not wearing his or her vest shall be taken out of service without pay immediately.

NO CHEMICAL WEAPONS OR FLASH BANGS SHALL BE USED UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES.

10) Flash bangs and chemical weapons shall be replaced with motorized drones, surveillance equipment and hostage negotiators.

PROCEDURES

  1. No armed officer shall approach a suspect within distance of his or her service weapon being within reach of any suspect.
  2. Each unit shall have 2 officers. One for observation and assist. One for contact with the suspect.
  3. No more than 3 officers shall go hands on with any suspect at any time. This will reduce the cases of bodily injuries to both suspects and officers and make available other officers to observe and control the violence inflicted on the suspect by pulling back over zealous officers. 10 cops on one suspect, all kicking and punching him makes it more difficult to subdue the suspect than it needs to be while compounding the injuries to the suspects and officers alike. In effect, the officers end up working against each other and more injuries occur to both the suspect and the officers.
  4. ONLY the officer who is primary on the call shall give orders to the suspect. Too many times there are 10 officers all hurling out contradictory and confusing orders to the suspect which escalates the violence.
  5. No Public Safety Officer shall rush into any situation without first observing and assessing the situation and making a strategic plan of action. “Split second decisions” are based on ASSUMPTIONS with little facts and are usually wrong and end up getting innocent people killed.Officers shall set up a staging area to gather facts and devise a plan of action before entering any crime scene—based on reliable intelligence collected from witnesses and motorized drones.
  6. No officer shall ever approach an occupied vehicle. Instead, he or she will use a loud speaker and have the occupant step out of the vehicle and place his or her hands on the hood of the officer’s vehicle before the officer gets out.
  7. ALL OFFICERS SHALL BE UNIFORMED WITH NAME TAGS, BADGES AND NO FACE MASKS (unless he or she is an undercover investigator—in which case, he or she will only be covered when working an investigation. Investigators should not respond to other calls).

COMMUNITY RESOURCES—Crime Prevention Beats Criminal Apprehension

The savings involved in these reforms will provide a means for community crime prevention methods such as:

1. Each community shall have a round-about at the entrance/exit of each neighborhood, with speed bumps, natural barriers and zig-zag barricades placed strategically throughout. This will make it difficult for a suspect to flee through a neighborhood on a vehicle reducing all sorts of crimes including drive-by shootings.

2 . Each Public Safety Department shall set up an Explorers program led by volunteer Public Safety Officers, National Guardsmen and women and local FBI agents, that includes after-school projects on a daily basis.

Activities will include homework help and tutoring, exercise programs, field trips to museums and other parks and rec facilities, sporting events, Constitutional Law Training, competitive activities to be coordinated with other departments and cold-case real crime-scene investigations where the kids will work with real cold-case investigators to help try and solve actual cold-case crimes by reviewing evidence and case files while learning methodology.

These activities shall be made available on a daily basis with an end goal of reducing crime, improving the human condition of communities, reducing poverty and preparing the kids for a career in the military or the Public Service Department by providing positive role models for the kids to look up to and to go to when they have a problem as well as fun and exciting activities that open the kid’s minds to a world of hope and possibilities outside the box. If you don’t spend time with them, someone else will.

These activities should also include neighborhood clean-up projects in which the kids are taken around to various houses and buildings in the neighborhood to mow lawns, paint houses and plant gardens and flower beds. In addition to providing the kids with a positive occupation of their time, it will also instill a sense of respect for the residents who request these services and a sense of pride in their community as a whole.

3. VACANT PROPERTIES must be repurposed immediately under eminent domain laws and provided for fair use by members of the community to open stores, community centers, homeless shelters or any other property needs that the community may have. Small business and improvement loans shall be made available for these purposes.

4. The private security companies in charge of the Community Service task force will work with the other tiers in the Public Safety Department to implement security technologies such as locks, cameras, alarms and patrols to ensure the safety of the community by taking advantage of technology, reducing the need for human intervention. Crime prevention is better than criminal apprehension.

ACCOUNTABILITY

  1. Each Public Safety Department shall be under the supervision of the National Guard and held to military standards in a military investigation and a military court.
  2. Any officer at the scene where another officer is accused of committing a crime shall be equally liable for that crime for failure to intervene.
  3. All Public Safety Officers shall be required to hold personal liability policies. Once an officer is un-insurable, he or she can no longer work in the Public Service Department.
  4. There shall be no qualified immunity.
  5. All incidents of violence shall be reported to and investigated by the National Guard.
    1. The information shall be shared with the FBI Civil Rights Division on a publicly available national data-base and the UCR.
    2. There shall be NO police unions. There is nothing more dangerous to a free society than a group of people with military equipment, in a union and accountable only to themselves.
    These measures will maximize the efficiency of Public Safety Departments, freeing up money to put toward other community projects and services and help to improve the human condition of at-risk people and neighborhoods, there-by reducing crime while limiting the contact between armed police and minimizing the opportunity for violent encounters between citizens and police.

© 2020 Michelle Lynn

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