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FAIR JUSTICE & NEXT STEP



THE CRC REVIEW



America took a big step forward with the passage of the First Step Act, which delivered much needed criminal justice reform. Now, society needs to take the next step.

The disturbing tape of the arrest that lead to the death of George Floyd reignites the anger stemming from deaths during arrests, especially when this one clearly should have been avoided.

Police officers deal with people in their worst moments, where one can understand how emotions can intensify. Even in these moments, the core principle of due process must be protected.

Law enforcement is tasked with serving and protecting our communities by enforcing laws as well as removing certain suspected criminals while they proceed through the system.

Law enforcement is not tasked with serving as judge, jury, and executioner. Regardless of how obvious the guilt may be, every accused person is guaranteed the presumption of innocence.

There is a clear need to expand changes in tactics that helped certain agencies reduce their fatal incidence nationwide, so more officers can bring in suspect alive.

Better criteria for selection and improved training may help further reduce incidents. Better educated and trained cops will be better able to diffuse situations and act under tense circumstances.

Some research studies showed a correlation between the level of education required for police officers and the number complaints filed against the departments.

During the surge of hiring officers in many of our cities, leaders reduced the criteria in order to get more qualified bodies on the job, rather developing the pipeline.

Some of these studies argued that the training learning from criminal justice programs combined with academy training helped officers better control emotions and function in tense situations.

Additionally, policymakers should review how tactics and procedures can be updated and standardized to better help preserve life. 

There are some people that simply want police to stop arresting alleged criminals, but that does not serve the public’s interest, if these people did in fact commit a crime.

The impact of unintended consequences of public policy needs to be considered as interactions between non-criminals and the police can increase the level of distrust.

Public policies like the controversial stop and frisk programs administered in cities like NYC help expand issues, as many African Americans with no criminal backgrounds were stopped and frisked.

Another area of concern is how many governments utilize law enforcement as revenue generating agencies, devoting actual budget line with projected revenues raised from citations and fines.

Like stop and frisk, the push to increase revenue will lead officers to focus heavily on areas with higher crime statistics, which will create more unnecessary encounters with people over minor infractions.

The push for more tickets, fines, and arrest numbers will lead police officers to unfairly harass non-criminals simply because of appearance.

There is great fear for people, especially people of color, with entering the criminal justice system, where the odds can be stacked against them for these minor infraction.

Our elected officials must ensure that all people that come in contact with law enforcement have fair treatment and those first responders do not let personal biases impact their civic duty.

People with proven records of holding any biases should not hold these roles, but its utopic to think it can be completely weeded out. There are people of all races who hold biased views.

People are human and may make mistakes without the intention of discrimination. The focus should be ensuring that justice is served uniformly.

The men and women that serve and protect our communities are heroes, despite a few rare incidents. The rare incidents have big impacts, so it is important that society addresses it appropriately.

Another goal for society should be reducing behaviors in communities that will lead to greater interactions with law enforcement, rather simply asking police to look the other way.

While targeting is an issue, African Americans come in contact with police more often than not because of poor personal choices and behaviors that either violate laws or others in the community.

Improving investment in some of these communities with domestic manufacturing might help push more people away from criminal endeavors towards legitimate jobs, reducing interactions.

There is clear need for change. Let us take the next step in ensuring equal protection under the law truly does exists and not just a political talking point. Society already took an important first step.