Not so long ago, a not overly bright person on a community forum called me a “racist” for asking “what does Black Life Matter” actually want?”
One might wonder if BLM is “racist” for finally answering my question.
Thing is, their ideas aren’t entirely wrong:
1. End “broken windows” policing, which aggressively polices minor crimes in an attempt to stop larger ones.
Broken windows policing has always been controversial. But it’s worked; it was a key element in turning New York from a crime-sodden wasteland in 1975 to one of the safer cities in America in 2005.
It did lean hard on “communities of color” – because some of those communities have had all sorts of problems, both “broken windows” and crime. We can debate the reasons for that – and a lot of African-Americans disagree with BLM on that; it’s usually they who are asking for more, and more integrated, police presence in their communities.
Is it possible to get good policing in a trouble community without impacting those, in the community, who are trouble?
2. Use community oversight for misconduct rather than having the police department decide what consequences officers should face.
I don’t disagree in principle: groups investigating themselves never works.
But community review boards, especially in Democrat-run cities where most police problems are, inevitably turn into political footballs.
Better idea? Make police carry individual liability insurance. It’ll have the same effect it has on drivers; it’ll show us who the “bad” ones are, and fast.
3. Make standards for reporting police use of deadly force.
4. Independently investigate and prosecute police misconduct.
This would seem to make good common sense.
5. Have the racial makeup of police departments reflect the communities they serve.
A passable-sounding idea in principle; very hard to carry out in practice; if applicants for police service reflect the larger American community – 12% Latino, 11% black, 2% Asian, 75% white – what is “the community” supposed to do? Assign cops to precincts on the basis of race?
Is it a good idea, though? If our idea of “justice” is “bean-counting based on skin color”, then haven’t we really lost?
6. Require officers to wear body cameras.
Fine idea in practice, and I support it in principle.
The devil is in the details. Can we allow officers to turn off their cameras? Do you want officers stopping at Superamerica to take a dump preserved on the public record?
I’m not asking to be funny or gross. If you allow officers to turn off the camera for purposes of bodily functions, then you create an opportunity – several, in fact. Unethical officers will use that facility. Bureaucrats will create more rules and procedures around cameras, which’ll take more time away from policing.
I’m in favor, but with questions.
7. Provide more training for police officers.
Not a bad idea, provided the “training” is useful.
8. End for-profit policing practices.
We’re talking about civil forfeiture, and even if the other nine proposals had been complete hogwash, this alone would be worth it. Using funds from “crimes” that haven’t even gone to trial should be stopped, now.
9. End the police use of military equipment.
I’ll meet ’em halfway on this. The hero gear gets way too much of a workout. When you have armored cars and police in full battle rattle knocking down doors to serve warrants for non-violent crimes – pot dealers, people who owe the city money, that kind of thing – that does kinda send a message about what you think about “a community”.
10. Implement police union contracts that hold officers accountable for misconduct.
Now that is going to be interesting to see out in practice.
BLM’s got a few useful ideas. Where they go wrong is in relying on politics and politicians to do the reforming for them.