SAN JOSE (KPIX 5) — After two weeks of protests and unrest sparked by the death of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer, activists have begun to outline some of the specific policy changes they want to see enacted.
Many activists like Rev. Jethroe Moore, President of the Silicon Valley Chapter of the NAACP, are advocating for citizen oversight of law enforcement.
“You’re part of the community; you’re part of the fabric of the community. And it’s time to act like this is a relationship. And not a tyranny,” says Rev. Moore.
Nationwide, activists have spelled some of the changes they hope will curb police misconduct, including banning the use of chokeholds, developing non-lethal, use-of-force guidelines and requiring de-escalation among others. But activists also caution that no one policy is a panacea.
“If you need to be told to intervene when another officer is brutalizing someone unlawfully, then the problem runs much deeper. And I think the problem is we need to see each other as a single community,” says Micael Estremera who works for the Santa Clara County Public Defender’s Office.
If there is one thing on which protesters and police agree, it’s the need for meaningful, substantive changes in the relationship between law enforcement and the communities they serve. The San Jose Police Officers Association is advocating for national police training standards and the creation of a national database for officers who have been fired or resigned because of misconduct. The POA does not, however, support calls to de-fund the police.
“If you de-fund the police, it’s not going to hurt the police force. It’s only going to hurt the community they serve. The calls for service will double and trouble. And who gets hurt? The community,” SJPOA President Paul Kelly said.
Others believe policy changes are at best guardrails designed to curb the worst abuses of a system that require fundamental change.
“The only thing that will keep an incident such as the George Floyd murder from happening again is a complete cultural change in policing,” said retired judge and former San Jose Independent Police Auditor LaDoris Cordell. “In my view, there is not one policy that’s going to change a culture that’s had years and decades to develop.”