Reform the Police

Back in March, when everything was closing down as the virus was spreading like wildfire, an underlying issue in the United States was catching the public eye: police brutality. Many Americans hit their boiling points, demanding immediate change. As it is an election year, this issue increased mobilization for those devoted to changing this issue to elect officials who share their views. This situation caught fire when a video of George Floyd being kneeled on by police officer Derek Michael Chauvin, an act that ended up murdering him, surfaced on the Internet. The shootings of Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor also added fuel to the protests as did the killings of both Jacob Blake and Daniel Prude. We still need police departments to prevent crime and protect American citizens, but we need to find ways to reform the departments to re-earn the public’s trust in them.

Photo by Curtis Compton

One idea for reforming police departments would be to have better background checks on police cadets and candidates. Doing so would provide greater insight into the mental stability and health of recruits. Background checks can reveal a candidate’s reasoning for joining the police department; is it to have power over civilians or to protect their well-being?

Another idea would be to have officers refrain from using firearms and instead use tasers in cases where a suspect is not armed or dangerous. This could lead to a decrease in police brutality cases and thus an increase in public trust. An article in The Washington Post states, “The average police officers in Norway, New Zealand, Iceland, Britain, Ireland, and other nations are not armed. Many of these countries have had high-profile instances of alleged police brutality. But overall, the absence of firearms appears to lessen the level of tension between officers and civilians, opponents of armed police forces argue.”

If reforms such as these come to fruition, it may lead to a decrease in the number of deaths from police brutality, as they have in other nations.