Dear 45th President of the United States,
Congratulations on your inauguration into the formidable power that is presidency. Now that your election has succeeded, many are anxious to see you improve American lives. A current topic of discussion relevant to keeping the peace within this country is the overlap between race, police, and violence. In recent years, the police force has caused controversy after being accused of systematic racism and profiling by members of the general public. Anger, sadness, and frustration has only grown stronger after the multiple shootings of unarmed black men. This has caused people like myself to question the effectiveness of the American police force, and whether or not there is racial bias and brutality within the justice system. Though it is evident that the majority of cops uphold the law to appropriate standards, lack of police training and the prevalence of racial profiling has resulted in a corrupted justice system. America wants to know what you will do to heal this divide.
Training is an essential part of any job- especially those which involve weaponry and combat- but American police training is extremely subpar. Police training in the U.S. is lacking in both technical and psychological aspects. In America, police training lasts an average of fifteen weeks (Waldman). This is simply not enough time to address the appropriate methods for negotiating hostile situations. This results in deadly force too often being used as the first tactic rather than a last resort. Police training (or lack thereof) is inadequate because funding for the force goes mostly towards salaries and equipment, which essentially puts a price tag on human life (Waldman).
An assortment of variables contribute to police brutality. America’s racist history results in racial stereotyping, whether conscious or subconscious. Minorities are disproportionately stopped by police and arrested for low level crimes (Natarajan). Furthermore, there have been several accounts of fatal shootings of unarmed black men which have caused outrage. This has sparked political movements like #blacklivesmatter and riots in places like Baltimore and Ferguson (Natarajan). A contributing factor to these tragic events is lack of accountability (Fridell).From Eric Garner to Alfred Olango, police have found any evidence of danger as a reason to use deadly force.
Many opposers to these civil activist and justice groups point to the fact that not all cops act this way. It is true that most members of law enforcement strive to protect and serve the community to the best of their ability (Fridell). However, it should be realized that it is possible to appreciate and respect a system while still criticizing its flaws. In fact, criticism and suggestion is necessary for systems to improve. So while most cops are morally upright, there is a place for addressing concern that will better the force. I want you to address this issue in a transparent way.
No system is without its flaws. No person is without its flaws. But to fail to point out these flaws leaves no room for growth and improvement. Small steps can be taken by your office to address these issues. Redistributing the law enforcement budget, community policing, and more in depth training will not only save lives, but also the reputation of American police. I, along with many other Americans, believe that these are initiatives that you have the power to enforce. What will you do with your power?
Sources mentioned in this letter:
“Racially Biased Profiling: A principled Response”
Fridell, Lorie, et al. "Racially biased policing: A principled response." Police Executive Research Forum, Washington, DC. 2001.
This report takes an educated look at the presence of racially biased policing, and offers a number of solutions to help amend this issue.
“U.S. Police Training in Use of Deadly Force Woefully Inadequate”
Waldman/The American Prospect, Paul, and Maria Haberfield/John Jay College of Criminal Justice. “Expert: U.S. Police Training in Use of Deadly Force Woefully Inadequate.” Prospect.org, Paul Waldman, 27 Aug. 2014.
This interview with a criminal justice professor reveals the severe lack of training within the american police force, especially when compared to other countries.
“Racial Profiling Has Destroyed Public Trust in Police. Cops Are Exploiting Our Weak Laws against It.”
Natarajan, Ranjana. “Racial Profiling Has Destroyed Public Trust in Police. Cops Are Exploiting Our Weak Laws against It.” Washington Post, The Washington Post, 15 Dec. 2014.
This article addresses the public outrage as a response to police misconduct, and the mistrust in law enforcement that has come as a result.