I am afraid that since my “Open Letter” to you earlier this week another elephant has appeared.
We now have almost a whole herd of elephants that need to be identified and set out to pasture:
1. Police response to public protest.
2. The use of force by police as a first, not last, resort; e.g.,using deadly force to terminate standoffs not involving a suspect with a firearm.
3. Discourtesy and disrespect by police toward racial minorities.
4. The lack of diversity in our nation’s police departments with regard to race, ethnicity, color and gender.
5. The increasing militarization of our nation’s police with regard to approach, tactics and weaponry.
Each of these problems have now become highly visible to our citizens. They need to be addressed.
Let me again be so bold as to suggest some questions for your meeting in Chicago.
— PROTEST: Are you committed to using the “soft” approach first effectively used in the early 70s (The Madison Method) and recently deemed as the most effective police response to protest by Profs. Clifford Stott and John Drury in the U.K?
— USE OF FORCE: Are you prepared to commit yourselves the the propositions that the lowest level of force be used whenever possible, the dignity of human life be affirmed, and new and creative methods of handling standoffs involving suspects with edged weapons be developed and implemented?
— COURTESY AND RESPECT: Will you affirm to the American public that police officers must always treat every citizen with dignity and respect regardless of the circumstances and direct your officers accordingly?
— DIVERSITY: Will you commit to the proposition that our nation’s police must be reflective of the communities they serve in terms of race and gender and that you will actively work toward making this a reality? Will you affirm that diversity in our nation’s police a strength and necessary goal?
— MILITARIZATION: Will you make every effort to de-militarize your department? For example: limiting SWAT operations to those which involve armed, barricaded suspects and not for routine arrest or search operations? Disseminating guidelines with regard to the use of military procured hardware? Require SWAT officers to wear name tags and badge numbers during operations? Prohibit the wearing of face masks and camouflage uniforms? Always emphasize to your officers that police in our society are primarily protectors of the Constitution and guardians of the people — and not soldiers on the front line?
Have a great meeting.
America is waiting for your direction!