Disarm Front-Line Police?

In the wake of the President's call to re-examine the militarization of police in the US, I go one step further, and wonder if it is not time now actively to consider disarming front-line police officers?

I am originally from Great Britain. As the article linked here states, front-line police officers in GB are still unarmed.

GB history goes back a little bit before that of the US (!). With the exception of what Native Americans suffered at the hands of the Pilgrims (and that's for another time), post-Mayflower America (and I know that is a tendentious term for the rest of the Americas; again, another time) has never been invaded and occupied. Until 1067, GB was - quite regularly.

We used to have knights wandering around with swords at their side. We had trial by combat. Arms were an essential prerequisite of law enforcement. And yet. We evolved to policing where front-line officers are not armed. Is it actually beyond the ken of police forces in the US to go the same way?

I appreciate that there would be considerable re-training and re-thinking involved. But it would cost a whole heck of a lot less than all the equipment the feds are pushing on police forces at the moment. And even British police officers say that it's a workable proposition, even when confronting armed assailants.

As with most of my ideas, I'm not about hypotheses. I like real-time solutions. And that means, starting locally. In my case, the township of Carrboro, NC. So, I ask my former mayor, Mark Chilton, who has recently been posting that, even now, police forces are controlled by elected civilian government bodies, I ask Mark, did you consider this when you were Mayor?

I then ask the currently serving Carrboro Aldermen if they will consider it now?

Issues: 

Total votes: 206

Comments

we've done something about the 310 million guns out there owned by about 1/3 of our population?

Here is a statement just put out by our local law enforcement agencies about citizen concerns:

http://www.townofchapelhill.org/index.aspx?recordid=7888&page=22

Should police lead the way in disarming?  Ask their families.

Roscoe, I'm going to have to come back about the press release. I just put up another post, wondering if we were getting anywhere tracking those six armored personnel carriers.

There is only so much one can put in an initial post. I do believe that it is time to de-escalate the sense of invincibility that comes with bearing arms. Front-line British police can cope. Why not ours?

But any decision(s) would, in my opinion, have to include the widest research and consultation, not least, openly, with serving police officers of all ranks.

It would also require considerable new training, and improved pay, benefits and support. And again, this is a brief initial response only.

Roscoe, I've read the press release. I'm delighted there will be public meetings. I will be attending, and putting forward my suggestions. I hope you attend, too.

I note there is no mention of all of the armored personnel carriers. What? They're here, but our elected officials can't find them? Maybe it's time for new elected officials.

Roscoe, I apologize for the short response earlier. You deserve more. But I was literally walking out the door.

I have been discussing these matters in another forum, and a very sensible person responded to the same initial post above by saying, right or wrong, you're never going to bring front-line police officers along with you. I replied (sorry, rather longwindedly!) as follows:

"I remember talking to a police officer called Dan in Dallas. Dan was one of the good guys. A police officer who took pride in serving and protecting his community, not in being superman.

Yet Dan said to me, look Geoff (I paraphrase; that's why it sounds like me!), I care about my neighborhood, but I also have a wife and kids I want to see every evening.

When I'm faced with someone waving a knife, I know he has rights, but I want to make sure he does not run away, and possibly hurt someone somewhere else. I also want to ensure that I do not miss something, and have him injure me.

My personal rule of engagement, he said, was: suppress, ask, apologize - in that order.

I'm not sure I totally agree with him. But unless I'm addressing one of my mates who believes the system needs to be brought down, and all pigs need to fry, then I assume I am dealing with folks who, like me, understand that our society has rules, chosen by a majority of those voting, that they need enforcing, that we choose citizens to enforce those rules, it is a dangerous job, and the enforcers need protection also.

So. Whatever we may discuss has to take into account protection of society and protection of our law enforcers.

Outright removal of guns from the front-line may not be possible - immediately. But what I think could be considered, as a first step, is all the aspects that would engender rules of front-line engagement that introduce stringent triggers for each step of using guns - the line that has to be reached before unholstering, drawing and then using.

For any such dramatic change in policing protocol, there would need to be substantial re-thinking, re-training and re-funding.

I think Carrboro would be an ideal location for a trial run, not because we have myriad problems, but precisely because we don't. Plus, we have a government and a people that are supportive of the notion of trying out new governance ideas.

I understand that the Carrboro Board of Aldermen intend to hold some sort of public forum to discuss policing protocols.

I would be delighted if the Aldermen decided to supplement that meeting with a citizens' task force, to consider not necessarily a blueprint, but ideas about what might be done to move from an atmosphere of suppression towards one of defusion. To see if there are lessons we could attempt in Carrboro, that might have application elsewhere.

In order to create a new protocol, one that is less aggressive, but also protects police, I personally would want to consider the following:

1) Removal of all militaristic uniform and equipment. Personally, I do not believe front-line police officers need more than handguns and maybe shotguns.

2) Training in use of nightsticks. Better training for unarmed combat. More training in mediation and talking down.

3) Body cameras, and the very best, most flexible body armor.

4) Step-by-step rules of engagement for when and how to draw and use firearms.

5) Pay and benefits that acknowledge the complexity of the new protocols, and which retain and attract those who genuinely support the approach.

6) Morphing the task force into a standing civilian police review/oversight body, which would monitor strategy, rules of engagement, compliance, hiring, budget and equipment, together with initial processing of complaints against and by the police, all then to be forwarded to the Board of Aldermen for final consideration.

In this regard, I think it important that any consultative process find a way to allow all serving officers, of all ranks, to participate, in a way that demonstrably ensures they understand that any contribution will not affect the terms of their service.

At the same time, if we are forging a new path, I can see that there might well be funding and input available from all manner of outside sources. Provided it doesn't involve someone saying, well done, can I interest you in this F-22 ... ??

Food for thought?"

Meanwhile, Carrboro Alderman Damon Seils has posted a comment on my other thread (about the armored carriers), telling us the New York Times have corrected their information - http://www.orangepolitics.org/comment/47962#comment-47962.

As a former CHTC candidate in 2013, and currently a candidate for BOCC for  Orange County ,who approved the action in the Yates incident, I would now consider seriously  dis-arm the front line police , but have a lively discussion to include members of the community.Gary Kahn

As a former CHTC candidate in 2013, and currently a candidate for BOCC for  Orange County ,who approved the action in the Yates incident, I would now consider seriously  dis-arm the front line police , but have a lively discussion to include members of the community.Gary Kahn

 

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