Chief Andy Mills of the Eureka (CA) Police Department has made the statement I believe communities need to hear from their police and has taken steps to give officers an alternative to using deadly force.
On the recent improvements, Chief Mills writes on his blog:
“The Eureka Police Department values human life above all else…including ours, and we will go to great lengths to protect the lives of everyone, even those in crisis, but we are not reckless. This is the first of many steps to protecting and saving life….” (my emphases)
“Frequently the police are tasked with subduing people armed with a knife, stick, bat, trowel, bottle or other weapon. Some are so high on honey oil they have lost touch with reality. Others are in the midst of a mental health crisis. Some just want to die and they think the police will help them do just that. A few are just that violent and are willing to risk their life by attacking others with weapons. The police are the ones called to remedy the problem using the least amount of force necessary.
“To reduce the potential of the police having to shoot someone in the midst of a personal crisis, EPD has repurposed four shotguns, transitioned the stocks to orange and now use them for Long Range Impact weapons, also known as bean bag guns. EPD officers when trained have deployed them in the field and you may see officers with these weapon systems.”
This is what all police must do:
- Re-commit to honoring the value of human life; its sanctity.
- Provide alternatives to deadly force (e.g., new technologies, de-escalation and unconscious bias training, and improving overall responses to mentally ill citizens).
- Maintain an on-going dialogue withe the community and enlist them in helping you solve problems.
- Not just words — but visible action steps.
Police can improve! They can become the professionals we need in our communities.