In recent months, police misconduct, in its various forms, has been put on full display in the United States. After the death of George Floyd on Memorial Day that sparked the discussion on themes surrounding mistreatment by police officials, such topics as police reform and reeducation have been breached in conversation, demanding action from police departments all over the nation.
Following the death of Floyd, protests and riots took over the streets demanding social justice against police brutality, and ultimately a change to how communities of color in the United States are policed and treated by officers. A sweeping police reform bill has been brought to Congress and monuments memorializing Confederate soldiers have been taken down. But while these actions are a step in the right direction, it’s up to police and their unions themselves to make sure these problems are addressed and resolved.
By preventing police misconduct scenarios through education and community engagement, police unions will start to see a better relationship with the communities they serve.
Increased education and training requirements have been topics of discussion in policing in the United States. Since the early 1900s, more than a century ago, U.S. policing has been looked at as a method of intimidation, especially against those in urban and minority-based communities.
In response, educational strategies have been set up to ensure that police officers act within certain boundaries and operate with sympathy toward their communities while keeping others safe.
Many are calling for major police reform, including changing the way police officers are trained and educated not only before they go out on the job, but while they move their careers forward.
One part of the calls for reform include reducing the hours spent training officers on weapons and self-defense and more on conflict management, de-escalation and resolution. Currently, the average time spent training officers in defense mechanisms is around 110 total hours, while the average overall time training them to reduce conflict is only eight hours.
Reducing police misconduct is important to the productivity of a police department, as well as to maintain positive community-police relations. This relationship is measured out by the amount of complaints that come in from citizens as well as the type of complaint. Education and awareness have proven to be a protective factor against complaints from citizens by reducing them.
One way this can be navigated is by changing the way police unions recruit. Police officers with a college education receive fewer complaints than officers without a college education. Police unions that put an emphasis on hiring college educated officers receive lower rates of citizen complaints than departments that do not require at least an associate degree.
When it comes to excessive force complaints, quality education and training can help to ensure that officers employ only the right uses of force. According to the International Association of Chiefs of Police, police officers are permitted to respond to resistance by utilizing the force they deem necessary to ensure compliance. However, with recent scrutiny surrounding violent initial responses, knowing what kind of tactics to use needs to be revisited.
For now, communities are gathering to support police reform and education around how to work with people on the human level and move toward a more sympathetic kind of policing. While a lot of work has to be done, the momentum is turning in the community’s favor, meaning that police unions would be benefit from listening and finding ways to come together to protect and serve their communities.
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