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Vote Christopher Hoyt For State Senate From Rutland County! :)
Social justice concerns have been thrust into the spotlight recently—after years of building frustration and anger over the current system of things.  I have long thought that the police departments have become “overzealous”, to say the least, in their practices, despite the good they do and the personal risks they take each day on the job.  We all need some real degree of law and order, of course, and certainly rely greatly on the police in our times of need, but for many departments the focus seems to have switched from “protect and serve” to finding and punishing as many minor infractions as possible...and inadvertently disproportionately affecting minority communities in the process. I am not 100% sure if this is from the way police officers are evaluated by their superiors (are cops that give out lots of tickets seen as doing a better job than those that might be more likely to give warnings?), or just that they have ended up over the years inadvertently focusing on the excitement of busting people for whatever they can charge them with, while losing sight of the bigger picture?  I noticed the shift in my hometown (Norwich, VT) in the mid-90s from community policing to policing the community.  I felt it then as a rather privileged member of a relatively wealthy community; I can only imagine its effects on people of color and people living below the poverty line.  History and recent events have proven that African Americans are being mistreated by the police system, and this obviously must change.  And there are no doubt many little things that could be done to help ensure that the police treat everyone fairly going forward.  One of these things might be as simple as a reminder taped up in the police car with the question “would you treat a rich white person this way?”  Banning chokeholds nationwide and finding new ways to deploy assets to the community (such as mental health services) would no doubt improve things for everyone, and let the police focus on tasks they are best suited for.  And there have been many other proposals floated recently to help rectify this situation, and which seem like a good idea, like collecting better racial data on who gets pulled over by the police.  But in addition to those ideas, I have come up with a fairly major plan to help reduce the instance of police bias in dealing with minority communities.  In short, it involves not only requiring body cameras for all state and local police officers (and providing grants to help departments purchase them if needed--a plan which has basically just been passed by the House), but then going further and setting up an agency to routinely (and randomly) review this footage to determine if officers are treating one group of people differently than another, and to ensure compliance with upholding the friendly, fair, and honest policing that so many departments aspire to.  Just as highway crew members get randomly tested for drugs every so often, every week different police officers could have their prior week’s body camera footage reviewed by trained specialists, to look for signs of bias or abuse.  This could lead to specific training (or punishment) for officers that are found to have issues, and to generally create an ACTIVE accountability system for officers to ensure good and fair policing for all members of the community.  This would be proactive, instead of an after-the-fact response to some tragedy like we often see in the news these days.  This would be a simple, relatively low-cost (maybe involving 8-10 new staffers at the state level), solution to a major issue we are confronted with today, and that could be implemented in short order and with huge benefits in relation to the relatively low cost of the program.  It could either be funded out of the general fund, or from a very small percentage of each police department’s budget, on the order of a couple of hundred dollars per officer per year...a drop in the bucket in the grand scheme of things.   This is one of the signature plans I would present in my first term if elected to the State Senate.  After all, how can you ensure fairness and equality in the way police enforce the laws without some sort of active, ongoing, oversight from an independent body?  This plan provides for that, and seems like it would likely receive broad support once introduced. Clearly something must be done to change the impact policing can unfairly have on minority communities, and this program could help to do just that.
Practical Police Oversight For Racial Equality and Justice
Home Simple Solutions About Me My Blog Why So Bipartisan?