Don’t Defund The Police – Fix Them – And This Time Make It Stick

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Don’t Defund The Police – Fix Them – And This Time Make It Stick

“In my own lifetime, I want to see the fighting cease. In my own lifetime, I want to see my sons enjoy the fruits of peace. While I’m still here, I want to know beyond a doubt that no one can lock us in or lock us out. We have climbed higher. much higher than I thought we’d climb. It’s a long journey, and even though the end’s in sight, there’s not much time.  I want to know we haven’t built on sand, in my own lifetime “ Sheldon Harnick “The Rothschilds”

The Police  Force is considered to be the most corrupt of governmental  institutions world wide. Fundamental systemic changes, including anti-corruption reforms, are needed in countries all over the world to prevent police abuse.

George Floyd’s death is the latest in a long series of brutal encounters between the American police and the people they are supposed to serve.

We need to make meaningful changes to address police misconduct.  When something calls attention to their faults (like murder), they implement change for a while. As public attention shifts and politics moves on, the police reform efforts eventually stop. 

We need to get rid of qualified immunity. Qualified immunity is a judicial doctrine that protects officers who violate someone’s constitutional rights from civil-rights lawsuits unless the officers’ actions were clearly established as unconstitutional at the time.  Just throw it out and make them as accountable for their behavior as the rest of us are.  They have clearly abused that privilege.

Police officers should keep better records of what they do and how they do it. Why were they in a high speed chase down the freeway? Who got injured along the way? etc. They looked like an invading army during the protests and many instances of unnecessary brutality and meanness were reported. Was any of that investigated? 

The most important thing to spend money on is better police training and screening. Train parking enforcement to deal with most traffic violations. Get rid of traffic cops.  If I get stopped outside of Beverly Hills and West Los Angeles, police act very differently. I did not need four officers with guns surrounding my new car because it didn’t have a front license plate at the time that law changed.  When I yelled at them for doing that and scaring my daughter (and me), they took forty five minutes, to write up the ticket. (Yes, I know what white privilege is but once I am in a non white neighborhood, they think I am Hispanic or Muslim).  Screen for psychological disorders, racial and  gender prejudice, homophobia, bullying, depression or violent, angry personalities. Get rid of stop and frisk and racial profiling.

 Police see the worst of humanity, the most depraved, and they do so at risk to their own lives. I think they are so used to thinking everyone is a bad guy and might have a gun and kill them, that they lose their humanity.  They treat certain neighborhoods as war zones and seem to forget human beings live in them.

 Police are rewarded  for “collars” (arrests – yes I’m obsessed with watching Law and Order) and how many traffic tickets they give in a month. What if they got rewarded equally for people they helped and the kindnesses they did in a community? What if they got rewarded for the humane way they dealt with lawbreakers?  They seem to have a problem telling the difference between an African American man walking home from work or a student running  home from college and a criminal. So it is best if they find a better way of dealing with arrests. Make their pension not a guarantee but based on constant re – evaluation.   

This “Blue Wall Of Silence” has to stop. This is the informal rule among  police officers not to report on a colleague’s errors, misconducts, or crimes, including police brutality. It has to be part of a new kind of training.

 Somewhere during the quarantine of the corona virus and the protests against police brutality, an African American friend sent me a picture of her brand new grandson. We have to do better. We have to fix this and keep at it this time. No more slacking off when things quiet down. 

Stay safe,

JAZ

March For Our Lives

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March for Our Lives

“It’s the children the world almost breaks who grow up to save it.” Frank Warren

The faces and organizers of March For Our Lives were almost all under nineteen years old. They were able to get 800,000 people on and off of Washington D.C.’s Pennsylvania Avenue in three hours. They attracted A-list celebrities. They turned out marchers at more than 800 satellite events held around the world.

Gun violence disproportionately affects people of color. Their death rate is ten times higher than among white children. I marched in the westside neighborhood of Santa Monica, California. Thousands turned out to protest for serious gun control reform. Most of them were white middle class to wealthy people. It is true that some of us had been silent when it affected children of color in neighborhoods far away from ours. But many of us have never been silent when it came to stricter gun control laws. Today, no one who cares for the future of children, can afford to be silent.

Chants of Never Again and NRA Has Got To Go echoed down Montana Avenue. I don’t think anyone expected the huge turnout that showed up. The organizers had not been able to get permission to close the street but the large number of marchers just took it over. The big rally was downtown.

There were so many small children, elementary and high school students. It is their generation that has to go through the fear of school shootings and have lockdown drills. Parents, adults and seniors marched in support of the kids. We did not fight hard enough for stricter gun control laws and trusted the system. We let them down. Now students feel that they have to try to change it themselves.

A young girl carrying a sign that said Am I next? said to me, “I think it is bad killing anyone, but especially the kids.”

It is clear from these demonstrations that most of the American population are at the point where we want serious gun control laws with extensive background checks. We child proof our medicine bottles, baby proof our cabinets, have mandatory car seats for kids and seat belts. Our goal has always been to eliminate as many potential dangers from children as possible. Gun control doesn’t hurt our freedom. It protects our children.

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Fly safe,

JAZ