Belinda Drake

Law Enforcement Reforms for Safe and Healthy Communities

Law Enforcement Reforms for Safe and Healthy Communities

END BROKEN WINDOWS POLICING

  • Criminalization and over-policing in our communities can lead to excessive use of force in otherwise harmless situations. Minor offenses that do not threaten public safety must be decriminalized. These activities can range from sleeping in the park, playing loud music, loitering, jaywalking, bicycling on the sidewalk to public consumption of alcohol or marijuana possession. 
  • Additionally, protections must be put in place to prevent intervention in civilian lives for no reason other than “suspicion” of an activity as it relates to an aspect of an individual’s identity.
  • After the turn of the century, Indiana has consistently and aggressively defunded mental health services and interventions. This can not go on any longer. Indiana must center and fund Mental Health Response Teams for crisis situations to reduce the use of police force. This must include an expansion of current police officer curricula as a requirement to hiring to 40 hours of crisis intervention training. 

COMMUNITY OVERSIGHT

  • Communities need a way to ensure police officers are held accountable for police violence. Therefore, we must establish an all-civilian oversight structure with discipline power including a Citizen’s Review Board and Civilian Complaints Office. Civilian oversight is a bottom to top structural change that empowers civilian community members who do not have current, former, or family as police officers. Additionally, the candidates for these positions of leadership would be offered by and from community organizations. 
  • Additionally, we must remove barriers to reporting police misconduct by requiring officers to give civilians their name, badge number, reason for the stop, along with a card with instructions for filing a complaint to the civilian oversight structure.

LIMIT USE OF FORCE

  • Police must have training and standards that results in skill acquisition and cultural competence so they can protect and serve in our communities without killing people. The use of excessive force must be restricted in everyday interactions with civilians. Officers must carry a less-lethal weapon. First aid kits must be carried and used immediately to render medical assistance to anyone in police custody who is injured or complains of an injury.
  • The authorized use of deadly force must be restricted to only when there is an imminent threat to an officers’ or another person’s life and only after all other reasonable alternatives have been exhausted.
  • Officers must use a minimum amount of force to apprehend a subject which includes specific guidance on the types of force and tools authorized for given levels of resistance. A complete ban on chokeholds, strangleholds, hog-tying, and transporting people face down in a vehicle.
  • Officers must issue a verbal warning when possible prior to using deadly force and officers must allow a reasonable amount of time to comply. Additionally officers must first use de-escalation tactics whenever possible instead of force.Officers absolutely can not use force on a person for talking back or as punishment for running away.
  • Officers must be taught and required to intervene and stop other officers who are using excessive force. This includes an official report to a supervisor.
  • The names of both an officer involved and victim must be released within 72 hours of a deadly force incident. 
  • Officers must be prohibited from shooting at moving vehicles or from moving in front of moving vehicles. They must be prohibited from high-speed chases of people who have not and are not about to commit a violent felony.
  • Police Departments must report all use of force to a database with information on related injuries and demographics of victims.
  • Establish early intervention systems for officers using excessive force.
  • Create a state reporting system for officers who are found to have willfully violated department policy or the law, committed official misconduct, or resigned while under investigation for the offenses.

INDEPENDENT INVESTIGATIONS AND PROSECUTIONS

  • Prosecutors can not rely on the police to gather evidence and investigate themselves, nor should these cases be prosecuted by someone who has an incentive to protect the police officers involved. 
  • The Department of Justice must have the ability to conduct civil rights investigations of police officers; jurisdictional requirements that an officer must “willfully” deprive another’s rights must be eliminated.
  • Federal funds must be leveraged to conduct external investigations and prosecutions of police killings.
  • Independent investigations must be required where police kill or seriously injure civilians and their findings must be required to be reported publicly.

COMMUNITY REPRESENTATION

  • The police should reflect and be responsive to the cultural, racial, and gender diversity of the communities they serve. Currently, white men represent less than one third of the U.S. population but they comprise about two thirds of U.S. police officers.
  • Police departments must develop and report a comprehensive strategy with timelines for achieving police officer representation who are women and people of color. This includes structural changes to recruitment and departmental practices.
  • Require a regular survey of the community to gauge experiences and perceptions of the police which will be used to inform department policies, officer evaluations, and pay incentives.

BODY CAMS/ FILM THE POLICE

  • Body cameras and cell phones are important tools for officer transparency and accountability. We must pass comprehensive policy requiring body cameras and dashboard cameras for all officers including progressive policies to document, store, and manage video footage. Video footage storage must be external to law enforcement agencies and district attorneys and civilian oversight structures must have access to the footage. 
  • Footage that has been tampered with must be a negative evidentiary factor in criminal and administrative proceedings.
  • Officers must be prohibited from using footage for completing initial reports, statements, or interviews about an incident. Officers must be prohibited from using footage as part of facial recognition software, for fillers in photo arrays, or to create a database or mugshot pool.
  • Ban officers from taking cell phones or other recording devices without a warrant. Ban officers from forcing biometric password usage on cell phones without a warrant.

TRAINING

  • The current training regime for police officers fails to effectively teach them how to interact with our communities in a way that protects lives. WE must establish and fund an intensive training regime with rigorous and sustained training  which includes training on racial bias.
  • Officers must undergo specific training, including scenario-based training, on at least a quarterly basis involving communities including youth in the design and implementation as follows:
    • Implicit bias
    • Procedural justice
    • Relationship-based policing
    • Community interaction
    • Crisis intervention, mediation, conflict resolution, and rumor control
    • Appropriate engagement with youth
    • Appropriate engagement with LGBTQ, transgender and gender-nonconforming individuals
    • Appropriate engagement with individuals who are english language learners
    • Appropriate engagement with individuals from different religious affiliations
    • Appropriate engagement with individuals who are differently-abled
    • De-escalation and minimizing the use of force
  • Require current and prospective police officers to undergo mandatory implicit racial bias testing, including testing for bias in shoot/don’t shoot decision-making, and develop a clear policy for considering an officer’s level of racial bias in:
    • law enforcement certification
    • the hiring process
    • performance evaluations
    • decisions about whether an officer should be deployed to communities of color

END FOR-PROFIT POLICING

  • End police department quotas for tickets and arrests and especially as part of an evaluation of the performance of police officers.
  • Limit fines and fees for low-income people
    • We must pass policies requiring local governments to:
    • ban issuing fines or arrest warrants for civilians who fail to appear in court for a traffic citation.
    • ban generating more than 10% of total municipal revenue from fines and fees.
    • allow judges discretion to waive fines and fees for low-income people or initiate payment plans.
    • prohibit courts from ordering individuals on parole or probation to pay supervision fees and other correctional fees.
    • Prevent police from taking the money or property of innocent people
  • Prohibit police from:
    • seizing property of civilians (i.e. civil forfeiture) unless they are convicted of a crime and the state establishes by clear and convincing evidence that the property is subject to forfeiture
    • keeping any property that has legally been forfeited (instead, this property should go to a general fund)
    • participating in the federal Equitable Sharing program that allows police to engage in civil asset forfeiture
    • Require police departments to bear the cost of misconduct
  • Require the cost of misconduct settlements to be paid out of the police department budget instead of the City’s general fund
  • Restrict police departments from receiving more money from the general fund when they go over-budget on lawsuit payments

DEMILITARIZATION

  • We must end the Federal Government’s 1033 Program Providing Military Weaponry to Local Police Departments and Establish Restrictions to Prevent Police Departments from Purchasing or Using Military Weaponry
  • Restrict police departments from:
    • using federal grant money to purchase military equipment
    • deploying armored vehicles, weaponized aircraft, drones, Stingray surveillance equipment, camouflage uniforms, and grenade launchers
    • using SWAT teams unless there is an emergency situation or imminent threat to life and high-ranking officers have given approval
    • conducting no-knock raids
    • accessing federal grant money or purchasing military equipment if the department has been recently found to demonstrate a “pattern or practice” of discriminatory policing
    • in addition to these restrictions, wherever possible agencies should seek to return to the federal government the military equipment that has already been received
Law Enforcement Reforms for Safe and Healthy Communities

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