Marching and lawsuits will not alone stop the spiral of police violence. The police will not be “reformed” or controlled internally. That’s because black men and cops are pushed together on the front lines of inequality, fighting each other instead of tough economic conditions.
The most essential solution to both crime and police brutality is full employment, because jobs fight crime better than police can. But in many neighborhoods half of black males are unemployed. Some of them become angry and desperate, which makes police trigger-happy.
However, even in these situations, officers must be examples of bravery and restraint. When police officers respect our rights they defend American liberty. And when police attack innocent people, the public must take direct control of standards, hiring and firing. The good officers need to be encouraged and rewarded. Racist officers need to be promptly removed.
Because Police Advisory Commissions are so often overruled by Police Commissioners, the public needs direct control of police standards. Every city needs an elected body authorized to evaluate, reward, sanction, hire and fire police officers and supervisors. This will reduce abuse by police and reduce taxpayer costs of courts, jails, prison, and lawsuits. Respect for police will be restored by community oversight.
Therefore, residents should assert control of the hiring, conduct and dismissal of our police officers and the Police Commissioner, by convening a local Police Integrity Congress (PIC). Here’s sample legal language for doing so:
The Police Integrity Congress (PIC) shall be a civic organization independent of city government. The PIC shall elect the Police Integrity Board. The Board’s decisions shall have legal power to preempt decisions by the Police Department, including the Mayor and Police Commissioner.
Powers and Obligations:
The Police Integrity Board shall have the authority and obligation to:
* interview patrol officer applicants.
* vote to hire or not hire police officers.
* set minimum employment standards for patrol officers.
* review the resumes of police officer applicants to confirm conformity with Congress standards. Among these standards shall be:
― minimum age 25
― IQ of 110+
― clean or expunged arrest record
― passage of exam which includes basic questions of municipal law, civil liberties, civil rights, emergency medical aid
― passage of exam to determine physical fitness and agility
― current residents of city where employed, minimum five (5) years
* convene in special session within one day when any officer shoots a person.
* publish online promptly all affidavits, videos, and official reports pertaining to officer involved shootings.
* maintain public online records of all praise and complaint regarding each officer.
* maintain public online records of use of force, arrests and ticketing by each officer. These shall be summarized in personnel charts.
* maintain public online records of the disposition of these arrests and tickets, including the officer’s attendance at court. Summary presented also as chart.
* define standards for community policing, including the seasonal proportion of foot patrol, bicycle patrol, mounted and squad car officers; use of force; protection of political demonstrations.
* define incentives such as pay raises and promotions for officers whose records stay clean.
* define disincentives such as barring promotion of officers whose records are blemished.
* define standards for probation and summary firing.
* define and require officer and senior officer participation in ongoing workshops regarding current law and proper engagement with suspects.
* require an end to stop-and-frisk.
* require an end to no-knock home invasion.
* release nonviolent offenders from jail.
* require prompt and speedy trials for defendants.
* require an end to collaboration with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
* provide private hotline for internal Police Department whistleblowers.
* require scrapping of military hardware and crowd control weapons and monitors, with proceeds of scrap sale to afterschool programs.
* assist the search for candidates for Police Commissioner
* interview candidates for Police Commissioner
* select Commissioner candidates for public interview at the congress
* publish Commissioner candidate evaluations online
* recommend preferred Commissioner candidate/s to Mayor of Philadelphia
* commend and reward the Police Commissioner, captains, and lieutenants for raising standards of community policing and internal police culture
* have the authority to fire or sanction the Police Commissioner for:
― blocking dismissal of an officer urged by the Board
― failing to transfer records fully and promptly to the Board’s website database
― failing to meet with the Board as requested
― failing to raise standards of police culture
Election and Tenure:
The Police Integrity Congress shall elect the Police Integrity Board which consists of seven (7) members whose nominees will be presented at an annual congress of nonprofit civic organizations not affiliated with police― such as Neighborhood Networks, PACDC, United Block Captains Association. This Congress shall also select five (5) alternate members to replace Board members as needed. Candidates for the Board will disclose their family relationship/s to any current employee of the Police Department.
Four members of the PIB shall be residents of Philadelphia’s lowest income quartile neighborhoods as defined by the most recent United States census. Three members shall be residents of the city’s middle income quartile neighborhoods, as defined by the most recent United States census. None may be employees of any police department or their spouses.
To the first Board elected, those three receiving the highest votes shall receive three (3) year terms. The next two highest vote-getters shall receive two (2) year terms. The next two highest vote-getters shall receive one (1) year terms. All members elected by this congress thereafter shall serve a single two (2) year term before replacement. Ballots shall be secret.
Any Board member who misses two (2) meetings unexcused shall be replaced before the next monthly meeting. The community congress shall have the right to recall and dismiss any Board member for any reason.
The Congress may establish committees from among Police Integrity Congress members. The committees shall recommend actions to the Board. Committees may include, among others:
― Officer Candidate Review and Hiring
― Investigative Unit
― Public Communications
― Relations with Commissioner and Fraternal Order of Police
― Standards of Engagement
― Elections & Qualifications of Electors
― Website & Database
― PIC bank account, if any, shall be with a community-owned bank or credit union.
― members shall serve without pay other than for related expenses such as transportation and meeting refreshments
― costs of printing reports and minutes
― costs of website design and maintenance
― office manager
― office rent and utilities
The Black Panthers of the Sixties were right. To defend our communities we need to take power. And to take power we need to take responsibility. We need to own the systems which currently dominate us. We need to control food, fuel, housing, health care, planning, education, transportation, media, finance, and police.
Glover is founder of more than a dozen organizations dedicated to ecology and social justice. He is author of six books on these themes, and a former teacher of urban studies at Temple University. Available for speeches and workshops.