This week has seen the end of a murder trial for a former police officer who killed a man while on duty. The very idea that the verdict was in doubt when the whole world watched it happen is maddening. It is an indictment of the very large power discrepancy that exists in our culture.
The problem is, like so many other things, that the issues are all interconnected and we can not address one without addressing the others.
Our police need better training in de-escalation and how to handle people who have mental health issues, drug addiction and other non-lethal problems. Our police need training in deploying less lethal means before reaching for their guns. Our police need psychological evaluation, not just before hiring, but during their entire career. Body cameras must be demanded for all police and they must be controlled, not by the individual, but by a central command.
We need more community support. More social workers, more counselors, more mental health options. We need more available healthcare and better jobs for the millions of people who can’t find that right now. We need response teams that take the lead when the situation involves kids, people with mental health issues or learning disabilities, rather than sending armed people who will almost always aggravate the situation. We need a better way to handle traffic stops.
We need better education at all levels. We need schools that are safe and don’t need armed cops in them. We need all schools to be funded at the same level. We need logical, effective and common-sense gun control that includes the ban of assault style weapons, any weapon that can shoot rapid-fire, automatic or near automatic rounds, licensing for all gun owners that must be renewed every 5 years (at minimum), and insurance requirements for those guns.
Weapons of war should not be in the hands of civilians. And yes, I realize that criminals will be criminals, but here’s the thing: if the guns aren’t manufactured or sold, even the criminals will have a harder time getting them. Include gun buy-back programs, limit the amount of ammo any one person can purchase at a time or have on hand and eventually the number of guns in the hands of criminals will diminish.
And yes, I would include that we need to make birth control easy to get and free, and we need to allow women to terminate an unwanted pregnancy, because poverty is a factor in both criminality and in mental health, and one of the issues at the forefront of policy is the cost of an unwanted pregnancy and the way having a child you can not afford will anchor you to that poverty.
Not a one of these things is a stand alone issue. They are all interconnected, each affecting the others. Until we recognize that, along with our systemic racism, inherent misogyny, and the fear of the “other” we won’t solve any of these issues.
We need comprehensive change in this country, an ambitious plan that is as interconnected as our issues are. It seems that as soon as we have some hope in our control of a virus, we are once again confronted by all of these things that seemed to fade into the background while our focus was on that battle.
The time is now. The fight is here.
That’s all for now, Readers. I hope your Thursday is wonderful.
Photo by Jéan Béller on Unsplash
1 comments on “what we need”
Thank you for writing this. I agree that we need more social workers and that the police must participate in mandatory psychological evaluations throughout their career. I also think that by putting more resources into addressing social issues such as homelessness and mental health we minimize the need for policing all together. There was a 2016 report from the Obama White House’s Council of Economic Advisers found that a 10 per cent increase in wages for non-college educated men results in a approximately a 10-20 per cent reduction in crime rates. Something for people to think about!