As the country moves past its initial and collection reaction and shock to the Michael Brown and Eric Garner grand jury decisions, the issue is now what to do after. Specifically, what needs to be done to move forward and how to both prevent and deal with the next (inevitable) tragedy. Herein is my nine-point plan.
- Mandatory special prosecutor assigned in police shootings. DA’s will be prohibited from handling prosecutions of police officer shootings and/or deaths within their jurisdiction regarding officers whom they must necessarily deal with on a daily basis.
- Police union messaging. Police unions must not be viewed as adversarial to the public and must tailor their message and directives avoiding at all costs ostensible tone-deaf insensitivity.
- Civilian ride-along programs. The public simply has no idea of what police do. Increased participation in ride-along programs and similar liaison programs will help dramatically especially when combined with media and social media outlets highlighting the efforts.
- Media instruction and tutelage as to what police do. The public and media think that arrests are invitations to cooperate. They must understand the rather brusque process of surrender and the danger to police of “pretty please” seizure.
- Education of public as to grand jury process. The ham sandwich myth must be forever corrected and eliminated altogether.
- Reevaluation and ultimate reversal of 1033 programs. Programs providing for militarization of police agencies fuel subliminal antagonism and exacerbate the inherent problems.The historic firewall between civilian law enforcement and military operations as in Posse Comitatus must be enforced.
- Mandatory camera programs. Cameras proved invaluable in establishing a level of transparency in the Eric Garner case. Without them, no facts would have been readily available. The ACLU has instituted programs allowing for citizens to download apps for smartphone use to document and record questionable and suspect police behavior.
- Expansion of Citizen Complain Review Boards and CCRB-like programs. Civilian jurisdiction in reviewing police abuse claims creates the perception of cooperative involvement and community investment.
- Police-civilian liaisons. Emphasis on community policing and symbiotic cooperation is encouraged versus antagonistic coexistence.