Agenda Toward a Positive Transformation in Policing

Activist JoAnne Bauer has submitted this policy plan to the Hartford City Council twice in the past 3 months and has not gotten a response.

Good policing is about trust, which has been severely eroded nationwide through the use of excessive force and police brutality. If police forces across America continue to militarize and treat communities of color as the enemy, they will increasingly be seen as an occupying army.

Definitive steps are needed to: protect civil and human rights in every community by setting a higher standard of policing and police training; secure critical reforms to end biased policing targeting Black and brown communities; strengthen accountability mechanisms; provide databases of traffic and pedestrian stops and arrests, broken down by race and other demographic data, with key privacy protection; investigate all complaints of misconduct, excessive force, police shootings; invest in strengthening economic infrastructure (employment, education, healthcare) of  communities; end militarization and acceptance of weaponry.

Local Resolutions are needed in US communities, including Hartford

1)      Condemn the Profiling of People of Color, especially youth

o       Full review of all policies and procedures. Elimination of Police Bill of Rights and the numerous civil service rules and judicial policies and procedures that give the police anonymity, freedom from having their behavior recorded, and virtual immunity from accountability and prosecution.

o       Immediately weed out racist cops.

o       Provide training that includes a detailed history of structural racism and all the ways that communities of color have been ravaged by systemic policies and practices and legacies of colonialism, genocide, enslavement, and economic exploitation.

o       Strong and enforceable prohibition on discriminatory policing based on race, ethnicity, religion, national origin, age, gender, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, immigration status, disability, and housing status.

o       End discriminatory anti-drug and “broken window” policies.

o       End to the various polices of containment such as racial profiling, stop and frisk, gang injunctions, secure communities, etc.

2) Oppose Police Brutality – abusive, excessive force, and death or injury by police

o       Body cameras on all police and in cars – has a civilizing effect; police behave better

o       Many questions need resolve: privacy protections; supervisor reviews; documents made public; storage

o       Full transparency and accountability in all cases of police excessive force and killing of civilians.

o       Independent review of fatalities.

o       Police involved in fatality of an unarmed civilian to be automatically prosecuted.

o      Additional, accessible state-level responders for police and other civil rights violations.

3) Oppose Militarization of law enforcement agencies.

o       Call for an end to turning our cities into war zones with lethal weapons.

o       End military wartime surplus going to local police departments under the 1033 program,

o       Establish local guidelines ensuring that equipment is not used on non-violent protesters, and end requirement that such military weaponry is used within a year.

o       Redirect military funding to social programs, such as public education, housing, health care, public transportation, and grassroots-controlled programs to prevent domestic and intra-communal violence.

4) Enhance Police-Community Relations

o       Increase police staffing from the community.

o       City Residency Requirement – Police must live in the community

o       Improved community outreach programming; Neighborhood offices

o       Install Community Action Teams; Outreach Social Workers

o       Strict limits on asset seizure without due process

o       Rights to Freedom of Speech and Assembly must be respected and upheld.

o       Police officers need to know & respect that it’s legal for someone to film them while they are performing their duty.

o       No retaliation allowed against people who film police encounters.

5) Empower an INDEPENDENT, Civilian Police Control Board

o       Enact democratically-elected “Police Control Boards”, with the power to fire, subpoena, and indict police officers for human rights violations.

o       Massive reinvestment in community-controlled policing practices.



Police Know That Racist Militarized Policing Is Destructive

Many police officials recognize the destructive nature of the current militarized policing that is often racially unfair.  Former Seattle police chief Norm Samper, writes in Guardian:” It’s difficult to view citizens as partners when you’re looking at them through a Kevlar helmet and a riot shield – or when you have failed to build a culture of trust and then you add military equipment and tactics to a combustible mix of racial discrimination and little police accountability. This explosive combination makes policing significantly less effective, and dramatically less safe for everybody.”

In just the past 5 years, as part of Section 1033 of the National Defense Authorization Act of 1997, the Pentagon has given away “tens of thousands of machine guns; nearly 200,000 ammunition magazines; thousands of pieces of camouflage and night-vision equipment; and hundreds of silencers, armored cars and aircraft” to counties in every state throughout the country. While attention is now focused on the DOD’s program, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has a program that is three times the size. This year alone, DHS plans to give away $1.6 billion worth of military equipment for counterterrorism, border security and disaster preparedness. Thanks to DHS, every squad car in Fargo, North Dakota, has assault rifles and kevlar helmets and 1,500 beat cops in Philadelphia are trained to use AR-15s. DHS is also giving out money for a few dozen police departments to experiment with drones. When the Federal Aviation Administration opens U.S. airspace to drones in the coming years, civil liberty advocates fear that the nation’s 18,000 police departments will be lining up for DHS grants to get their latest toy — a toy that has the capacity to spy, stun, maim and kill.


Proposed Demands and Campaigns in Depth

Police Control Boards – Grassroots Police Control Board’s are intended to serve as directly elected oversight and disciplinary committees on a city or municipal level. They have the power to monitor and reform policies and to discipline, fire, subpoena and prosecute police or other law enforcement agencies operating within their jurisdiction. Campaigns to institute Police Control Boards are designed to avoid the pitfalls of Citizen Review Boards. Over the last 50 years various movements and communities have demanded Citizen Review Boards that have been taken over by Mayors and other local officials. Mayors have appointed their own political cronies to protect the police and the status quo. We propose that our movement organize electoral campaigns or referendums that transform the Charters of Cities and Counties to establish Police Control Boards via the limited democratic means that presently exist. Electoral campaigns for Police Control Boards become vehicles for extensive outreach and education to move our base and shape public opinion. Campaigns of this nature will require grassroots fundraising to retain the integrity of the initiative and pay for media ads, etc.  They will also require forming alliances with various forces in the city or region that share similar interests and the development of a comprehensive strategy that builds enough power to institute this structural reform.

Anti-Containment Campaigns – These campaigns focus on stopping local, statewide, and national policies and programs that repress and displace our communities like racial profiling, check points, stop and frisk, weed and seed, gang injunctions, drug war policies, three strikes and zero-tolerance policies, etc. In addition to stopping these reactionary policies, we should also engage in proactive campaigns, like those that seek to abolish prisons.

Anti-Surveillance Campaigns – These campaigns should focus on forcing the state to become transparent about its extensive surveillance infrastructure and operations, and organizing campaigns that demand that they be wholly dismantled. These campaigns can start with initiatives that publicly expose the methods and tactics used by various government agencies to monitor our social activities. We must also develop and effectively utilize a national database that exposes the undercover agents and provocateurs used by the government to infiltrate, disrupt, and discredit our social movements (this must be done through extensive factual documentation and not innuendo which can be and is very destructive to our movements).

Demilitarization Campaigns – These campaigns should focus on ending the military weapons and tactics used by domestic law enforcement.  Law enforcement agencies throughout the US empire have enhanced their military capacities since the 1960’s, primarily focused on containing and repressing the national liberation and progressive social movements. For their arsenals they have acquired and incorporated military assault rifles, tanks, combat ready helicopters, grenades, hollow point bullets, camera and satellite integrate surveillance systems, infrared equipment, and sonic and microwave crowd control equipment, etc. Tactically, they incorporated various strategies of counterinsurgency and pacification, including envelopment tactics that surround communities, check-points that control traffic in and out of a community, “weed and seed” programs that deliberately divide communities, gang injunctions that criminalize social relationships and customs (youth fashions, informal associations, etc.), “stop and frisk” tactics that allow for illegal searches and seizures on a massive scale, and initiatives like “Operation Ghetto Storm” intentionally designed to terrorize oppressed communities.  These campaigns are intended to heighten the contradictions between the people and the state (i.e. the government) and put the questions of institutional racism, national oppression, and US imperialism at the center of public debate within the empire.

Anti-Drone Campaigns  – The introduction of surveillance and military drones over US held territories marks a critical new phase in the development of the repressive capacities of the US government. In order to preserve any notion of democratic space, we must launch local campaigns to resist the use of drones at the local and municipal levels and join or start campaigns that challenge their legitimacy and utilization throughout our localities.    -this page from David Samuels & the Community Party  


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