Although on the long side this article has it all. It is a fantastic starting point to learn about policing history, what police reforms to advocate for along with a personal story that ties it all together. Ultimately it is up to us citizens to decide whether we want a police force that "enforce(s) every law on the books by identifying and punishing any infraction" or one that "help(s) to maintain community standards of public safety and order."
From the report issued by President Harry Truman in 1947 to the Kerner Commission ordered by President Lyndon Johnson in 1968 Americans have known for decades that racism has been embedded in police departments across the 50 states. Police brutality along with a culture of racial bias has put us in the current situation in the 2020's. Relevant Magazine's Tyler Huckabee says enough is enough. We don't need anymore commissions or studies, what we need is meaningful police reform.
Every forty hours a Black man is killed in America by police. The seemingly endless onslaught of violence against Black bodies makes it readily apparent that there must be changes to the policing culture. Author Rashawn Ray says there are two reforms we should make to change police accountability. One, officers fired for police misconduct should not be allowed to work in law enforcement again and two, we should restructure civilian payouts by moving them from taxpayer money to police department insurance policies.
As the United States grapples with ways to reduce police violence CAHOOTS (Crisis Assistance Helping Out on the Streets), a community based public safety program in Eugene, OR that responds to crises involving mental illness, homelessness, and addiction may be the what cities around the country need. The CAHOOTS workers are equal part medic (a nurse, paramedic or EMT) and crisis prevention worker with at least 500 hours of training. The workers are not armed and are designed to respond to non-violent crisis situations and non-emergent medical issues.
With the advent of smartphones and immediate access to record events there have been a plethora of videos showing police brutality. As the evidence grows public support for protestors and police reform has increased. Writer David Brooks says much of the public debate centers around two theories: an individual issue (a few bad apples) or a systemic issue (the tree is rotten).
Christians may disagree on whether police reform is needed or if it is needed to what extent. Regardless of that debate writer Charles Holmes Jr. says that Christians need to lead by example and get involved in law enforcement "to exemplify what love and true service in minority and poor communities looks like."
Taking a nuanced view leads to tension and oftentimes that tension is where we Christians need to be. Author Randy Alcorn says that, "just as bad cops deserve to be condemned and prosecuted, good cops deserve to be praised and commended." We couldn't agree more.
Poll after poll shows that the majority of white evangelicals say that police treat black and white Americans the same despite the majority of black Protestants saying police treat white and black Americans vastly different. Why does the white evangelical church not believe the black protestant church? Bonnie Kristian lists four reasons why.