There has been a lot of demand from all angles for police reform since the in-custody death of George Floyd on Memorial Day. Is police reform needed? The answer is yes, but what should such reforms look like?
Local law enforcement agencies across the nation have gone through several periods of reform since the first police department was formed in the mid-1800’s. The current reform agenda for local law enforcement is called “Community Policing.”
Police Reform: Community Policing
Community policing was supposed to be a cure for community-police relations following the urban race riots of the 1960’s. We are now about a half century into this social engineering experiment called community policing and it has proven to be nothing short of a complete failure.
In the wake of the recent riots across the country there will definitely be a push to double down on community policing. Many elected leaders in the cities that are currently in ashes will claim that community policing would have worked and can still work if it were not for the resistance from the rank and file police officers to fully implement it.
What the politicians and activists promoting community policing will not tell you is that community policing is a reform that requires local law enforcement agencies and all of its officers to carry out the political agenda of the local elected leaders. Police officers know this and have resisted for good reason.
Police officers take an oath and in order to remain faithful to that oath, they must remain apolitical and have autonomy from political influence to carry out law enforcement functions in a fair manner where everyone is treated equally under the law.
Community Policing is Antithetical to a Police Officer’s Oath
Community policing is antithetical to the oath police officers take. Local politicians are routinely bombarded with community-police relations grievances from a variety of identity politics groups. The local politicians promise these groups that the local police department will be reformed to satisfy their demands and they search far and wide for a person they can appoint as police chief that is politically aligned ideologically to implement community policing.
Police officers are then compelled to undergo countless hours of cultural diversity, procedural justice, so-called constitutional policing, and implicit bias classes. These classes are designed to convince officers that the laws they took an oath to uphold are the product of white supremacy and are systemically racists on their face. And if officers enforce the law as written, without taking identity politics into consideration, then those officers are racist for doing so.
Community Policing Creates Conflict
Community policing by its very design creates conflict in the area of community-police relations. The various communities within a city were promised preferential treatment by police in the name of community policing by their elected leaders. Local law enforcement officers, staying true to their oath, continue to enforce the laws as written, which ultimately puts them at odds with the community and elected leaders.
Police officers are caught in the middle of this social engineering experiment and are often vilified for doing the job their oath demands of them instead of allowing themselves to become an armed force to carry out the local mayor’s political agenda.
Community policing is a political construct that puts police officers in an impossible situation. The laws that police officers have taken an oath to uphold are clear and concise. There are no carve outs in the written criminal code. Police officers do not have discretion in enforcement of those laws based upon cultural or identity politics.
Police Reform: Apolitical Autonomy
Local law enforcement agencies need to be apolitical and autonomous from local political control. Police reform, if it is ever to be successful, must include complete autonomy from local politicians. All political activists must be purged from the rank and file and command staffs. And professional merit-based standards need to be implemented across the board. The politically oriented community policing reforms need to be removed from all areas of policy and practice. And Congress needs to completely de-fund and disband the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services. The COPS office has been used to compel local law enforcement agencies to fully conform to local political control and institutionalize the political agendas of local politicians.
If community-police relations are ever to improve, politics must be completely removed from the equation. Law and order is one of the fundamental principles of our Constitutional Republic. It is one of the main reasons why people from all over the world want to come to the United States. The only way law enforcement agencies can regain the trust of the people and have legitimacy is if they are completely void of politics.
Change the Laws, not the Law Enforcers
If local politicians and political activists have a problem with certain laws being enforced that they do not agree with, they can lobby their state legislature to have those laws changed. That is how things operate in a Constitutional Republic. Community policing has been used by local politicians for a half a century now to circumvent that process in order to appease certain cultural and identity politics groups. And police officers have been caught in the cross-fire. Police reform is absolutely needed, but community policing is not the solution.