Kendall Qualls: Proposal for Police Reform, Retraining, and Support
George Floyd’s tragic death illuminated a jarring deficiency in police strategy, training, and monitoring. The tragedy served as the latest reminder in the need for policing reform. As a nation, we’ve seen too many instances of police misconduct leading to death.
The series of tragedies affecting young black men has had a direct impact on me and my family. My wife and I have always had to coach our three sons on public behavior and dress code to avoid mistreatment from wayward cops. Simply put, I want to live in a world where I don’t fear for my sons’ safety because of the color of their skin.
At the same time, it is imperative that we give police officers the support and training they need. The majority of police officers risk their lives on a daily basis to protect and serve the community. As the child of a single mother during the turmoil of the late 1960s and early 1970s in Harlem, I know what it feels like to go to bed with sirens and violence outside my apartment window. The one thing I needed, like all children, was safety and security. Police officers are there to provide the safety and security for those who cannot defend themselves, and their property, from harm. We must give police the training and tools they need to provide safe and secure communities.
To that end, I am proposing an eight-point plan to reform policing and protect our communities:
Support, encourage, and implement community policing
- Encourage police departments to build closer relationships with the community and work in a proactive relationship with citizens to identify and solve problems.
- Increase support for the Department of Justice (DOJ) community policing program.
Better training of law enforcement tactics
- Develop and implement well-defined use-of-force policies without compromising public or officer safety.
- Develop guidelines and instructions for officers to intervene when another officer is using unreasonable use of force.
- Ban neck restraints.
- Increase training in crisis response, intervention, and de-escalation.
- Institute First Amendment policies and training that protect the right to free speech while ensuring public safety.
Intervene, retrain, review, monitor, and remove problem officers
- Includes early warning programs for bad officers.
- Increase coordination with federal officials.
Update and implement procedures for reporting, investigating, and disciplining use of force misconduct
- Improve processes to respond to both external and internal misconduct complaints.
- Eliminate binding arbitration procedures for police terminated for excessive use of force.
Revise hiring standards and procedures
- Implement a character-based system of screening and hiring new officers that emphasizes personality traits conducive to respectful, lawful and effective policing.
- Promote community input on hiring practices and resource allocation.
Review pay and benefits
- Incentivize compliance with best practices.
Reinstitute the DOJ’s pattern and practice review of local police departments
Support the creation of special prosecution units to prosecute police misconduct cases
Police reform, retraining, and support are not mutually exclusive. We should adequately support and fund the police while implementing meaningful changes to policing practices, training, and disciplining procedures.