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Thursday, August 03, 2017

Time to Rethink "Law Enforcement" Agencies

After one of the devastating cases of police brutality in our country, I heard Boston leaders get together to talk about ideas they had to improve law enforcement. The one idea that stuck with me was an idea to rethink what it means to "enforce" the law. I really like this idea.

I know that many police leaders throughout the country are already doing this, and I want to support this effort by advocating for greater inclusion, imagination, and insight--how might we "enforce" laws in ways that matter.

I think that this work will profit from deconstructing our policing agencies into multiple parts that focus on education, prevention, law-changing, equity, and after all that, if needed, enforcement.

When President Trump recently "joked" by inciting police brutality, I ached for the many families of both victims of brutality as well as the police who committed those crimes. Brutality practices which have existed for too long hurt lots and lots of people, and have to be stopped. I believe it's a crime for a political leader to support such violent and devastating behavior.

Instead, I hope leaders will foster the following efforts to forward safe communities:

Education About the Law 
Too many don't understand the laws and expectations in our country. We have to better teach all about the laws, why they exist, and how to change them if those laws aren't working. I try to teach my own children and students about the law all the time by providing the rationale and ways to follow the law. For example, laws related to speeding protect safety. I say to my children, if you're within the speed limit you're less likely to cause or be the victim of traffic accidents and fatalities.

I think that all high schoolers in the country should be educated about law and government as a mandatory course, and when they successfully graduate from that program they should automatically earn the right to vote.

Support and Betterment for Law-Breakers
Too often law-breakers are simply put in jail rather than met with efforts to educate and coach those law-breakers into better action. I think we need to look deeper at the reasons why laws are broken and how to help individuals who break the law. First if a law is broken to, perhaps, support a family or a bad addiction/habit, then there might be better ways to redirect these law-breakers than jail.

Weapon/Gun Control
As I researched many mass killings of innocents, we notice that mental illness is often at play in these events. There needs to be medical-related restrictions with regard to owning and using weapons of any kind. I agree with all of those people who want to regulate weapon ownership similar to the ways we regulate driving automobiles.

Changing Roles and Titles
I think the use of the word "police" may need to change for some roles. By adding more different types of roles with different names we may be able to better promote law abiding citizens. I'm not sure what those titles will be, but I can imagine more emphasis on education, prevention, advocacy, and community building.

When I hear the Police Commissioner from Boston speak, I am often inspired. He appears to be a man who cares about people and the community. He appears to respect diversity and lead in inclusive, transparent ways.

I hope our country will forward a broader definition of what it means to foster peaceful living and collaboration in our communities. I am not well versed in this, but I know that with imagination, insight, and inclusion we can better promote what it means to be law-abiding (or law-changing if needed) to make safer, better communities for all.