In this plan:
- Defund Police and Invest in Communities
- End Police Violence
- Establish Independent Oversight
- Hold Police Accountable
- Reform Immigration
- Getting Police out of Schools
- Eliminating Campus Police at Colleges & Universities
DEFUND POLICE AND INVEST IN COMMUNITIES
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said that budgets are moral documents. They reveal the priorities and values of a home, of a community, and of a nation. Right now, we have a fundamental math problem when it comes to policing and mass incarceration. What does that mean?
The United States spends a staggering $200 billion per year on policing and mass incarceration. That’s more than any country in the history of the world. It’s not even close. And we get out, what we put in. The United States arrests, jails, and incarcerates more people than any country in the world. We often say that 2.3 million people are in America’s jails and prisons, but that’s just on any given day. Over the course of a year, over 10 million Americans are jailed and millions more are placed on probation or parole.
What we have now come to learn, is that in most American cities, like Los Angeles, the LAPD takes up a staggering 53% of the city’s entire general fund. It’s outrageous, but it’s not rare. It’s the norm, but this has not always been the case. Policing and mass incarceration should be more like 5% of a city’s budget and the remaining 95% should be spent on infrastructure, education, healthcare, jobs, housing, the environment, business startups, and so much more.
The end of policing and mass incarceration as we know it must begin with defunding police and investing in communities. Period.
- Divert funds from police budgets and invest resources into community-based programs.
- End the criminalization of drug use
- Invest in and legalize safe injection sites
- Invest in drug treatment facilities
- Invest in mental health treatment
- Invest in housing
- Invest in schools
- Pledge decreases in police budgets
- Develop 24 hr non-police mental health crisis response capacity
- Close youth and adult prisons and jails, and reinvest resources in community-based, transformative justice programs and alternatives to incarceration that focus on rehabilitation and accountability
- Pledge decreases in incarceration budgets
- Pledge to close jails and prisons
- Demilitarize the police by banning the federal transfer of military grade weapons, tactical equipment and vehicles to local police forces and ending militarized training programs
- Completely overhaul local 911 systems to convert them into smart systems that divert calls to specialized teams – i.e. mental health, substance use, children and family, etc. that are largely staffed by non-police professionals, such as social workers and trauma doctors
- Invest in solutions to help survivors find safety and healing
- Stop jails and prisons from contracting and outsourcing essential services (such as healthcare) to private contractors
- End the practice of charging people incarcerated in jails and prisons for essential services and reading material, such as medical care, telephone calls, electronic tablets and books
- Create a task force for Federal Review every officer involved shooting and in custody death
- End the use of police in schools
- End the arrest and handcuffing of juveniles
- Create an unarmed first responder unit comprised of social workers and mental health professionals that responds to mental health crises and other non life threatening situations in the community
END POLICE VIOLENCE
- End no-knock raids
- Ban police tactics that are meant to impair people’s breathing including all restrictive choke holds
- Change use of force standard from reasonable, which is nebulous, to necessary.
- Completely redefine and systemize a safe use of force continuum to include new tools and strategies that are literally the standard all over the world
- Provide regular de-escalation training
- Require public reporting of all use of force incidents
ESTABLISH INDEPENDENT OVERSIGHT
- Establish civilian oversight committees with subpoena powers over law enforcement with powers to investigate and discipline acts of police abuse and killings independently of current law enforcement
- Establish Police Accountability Unit that will review police misconduct and discipline officers for wrong doing
HOLD POLICE ACCOUNTABLE
- Require that police officers and other first responders live in the communities they serve.
- Establish laws making it illegal for police departments to hire officers who were previously fired or who resigned while being investigated for serious misconduct including the use of excessive force, or domestic violence.
- Establish public data systems to track critical information re: policing like arrest information, demographics, charges, conviction history, jail and prison population information
- Require any officer who shoots someone to submit to a mandatory drug and alcohol test within one hour of the shooting.
- Unseal and make public all records of police misconduct and complaints against police
- Ban all union contracts from interfering with police accountability, by
- Eliminating officers’ ability to review evidence before submitting to an investigation
- Allowing for the investigation of all civilian complaints, regardless of when filed
- Prohibiting the destruction of personnel files and complaints
- Ending arbitration after internal discipline occurs
- Ending indemnification for police abuse
- Grant media and family immediate access to all body, dash and video evidence. (upload to a public warehouse)
- End the doctrine of qualified immunity
- In all fatal encounters with police require autopsies independent of the county
DECARCERATE: PRETRIAL, SENTENCING, AND PROSECUTORIAL REFORM
- End cash bail and allow for total pre-trial release
- End pre-trial surveillance
- Do not rely on racist risk assessments
- End the death penalty
- End absolute immunity for prosecutorial misconduct
- Completely legalize drug possession
- Direct all drug sales cases to diversion and treatment programs
- End the criminalization of homelessness and poverty by ending arrests and prosecution of low-level offenses such as fare evasion, trespassing and panhandling.
- Dramatically reduce supervision terms to no more than 6 months on misdemeanors and no more than 12 on felonies.
- End the practice of jailing people for non-criminal violations of probation.
- Establish sentence review units and make every incarcerated person eligible to have their sentences reviewed for parole every 5 years. Create a presumption of release once the person has turned 50 or after he or she has served ten years.
- Require open file discovery and early-disclosure of all Brady material
- Establish a fully funded Conviction Integrity Unit that is independently run in the prosecutor’s office.
- Make criminal record expungement automatic after one year for misdemeanors and after three years for felonies.
- Remove legal barriers that prevent re-entering citizens from getting jobs, housing, education, and other social services
- “Ban the box”
- Complete massive reconsideration of sentencing laws and standards. Current terms were created in the most random and destructive ways imaginable. End mandatory minimums.
- Radically reform parole, including shortening the length of time people are required to be on parole, the reporting requirements, the terms and conditions
- Fully fund public defender offices
- Restore the right to vote to all currently and previously incarcerated people regardless of felony charges, including granting easy access to voting for all local and national elections within jails and prisons
- Establish sanctuary cities, where undocumented citizens won’t have to fear deportation even if they get in trouble with the law
- End any collaboration between any local law enforcement agencies and ICE
- Make prosecutor’s consider immigration consequences and present immigration neutral plea offers
- End the separation of families in our immigration system
- Fast track cases of migrants detained with children and those who have been detained for two weeks or longer
- Full transparency within the immigrant holding facilities and detention centers
- Access to immediate medical care within the facility
- Access to specialized care for those with specific medical needs
- Access to immediate competent legal counsel in their native language
- End the practice of deportation back to the border without a full legal review of the migrants case
- Establish access to an outside system of reporting security guard violence and abuse within the detention facilities
GETTING POLICE OUT OF SCHOOLS
In recent years, there has been an increasing police presence in our nation’s schools. According to a report by the ACLU, an astounding 14 million children attend schools that have police officers on campus, but no counselor, nurse, psychologist, or social worker. Although professional standards require at least one counselor and one social worker for every 250 students and one nurse and psychologist, for every 750, the ACLU found 90 percent of students are in schools that fail to meet these requirements.
Although many proponents of putting “school resource officers” (SROs) in schools argue that doing so protects school safety, research does not support this claim. SROs do not deter school shootings. The key to violence prevention, research suggests, is having trusted adults in the building who other children believe they can approach with information. Even if they were inclined to try, many SROs have little experience establishing these types of relationships with children. In fact, a full quarter of all law enforcement officers in schools surveyed by Education Week stated they had no experience whatsoever with kids before being assigned to their current positions.
A recent longitudinal study by researchers at the University of Maryland and Westat also shows that increasing police presence in schools actually increases the likelihood of criminal-like behavior and the likelihood of harsh disciplinary conduct such expulsion or suspension. This domino effect has devastating long-term effects on students’ mental health, achievement, and criminal behavior. Other research has reached the same conclusion. Unsurprisingly, police presence in schools disproportionately harms students of color and students with disabilities.
In these times of budget scarcity, where state and local budgets are stretched to the limit and education funding is regularly in peril, schools should no longer devote resources to employing SROs. Over the last twenty years, governments have funneled billions of dollars into putting police officers in schools, while counselor and social worker positions have been eliminated or, at best, remained stagnant.
It is therefore time to get police officers out of schools and use our money in a way that protects the health and safety of all of our students. School boards should:
- Eliminate law enforcement from schools: Law enforcement is not trained to handle the issues children and adolescents experience, and funding them takes needed money away from providing mental health and other social service supports.
- Develop a checks-and-balance system before any teacher or school official can request law enforcement at a school: Teachers should only be allowed to call on law enforcement when there is an imminent threat to someone’s physical safety. If there is no imminent physical threat, the problem must be handled by mental health staff, counselors, and school administrators.
- Develop a checks-and-balance system before any teacher or school official can refer a case to a prosecutor: Teachers or school officials should never refer anyone under 16 to an outside prosecutor, and instead, should handle all issues that arise internally. If the child is above 16, they should only refer the case if the child has caused or attempted to cause serious bodily harm, and they should support the child’s entrance into supportive diversionary programs.
- Invest money in mental health supports and after-school programs that lead to positive long-term outcomes: The money saved by divesting from SROs should be redirected into needed services. In addition, increased resources from federal, state, and local budget allocations should be devoted to mental health supports, social services, and evidence-based programming.
Invest in culturally competent mental health service providers: Students of color, for example, have different lived experiences than white children. It is critical that schools provide culturally competent counselors to help them address any problems they may be having.
ELIMINATING CAMPUS POLICE AT COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES
While the number of police officers on campus has ballooned over the past fifty years, there are significant questions about whether a campus police force is at all necessary, leads to reduced crime, or offers any protection against school shootings, one of their proponents’ primary justifications. For example, 95 percent of the caseload of Harvard University’s police department, which has been the subject of numerous allegations of racism and discrimination lawsuits over the past twenty years, involves property crimes, not allegations of violence or cases involving physical harm. As for school shootings, the evidence also fails to justify an armed police force. School shootings are exceedingly rare, and when they do occur, they most often end because the shooter stops and not because of an arrest. In addition, officers can always be summoned to campus by a call to 911. The argument, then, that the remote possibility of a school shooting justifies the existence of an entire armed campus police force, is misleading at best.
Students, faculty members, advocates, and residents of communities surrounding these campuses have long opposed campus police departments, documenting numerous instances of racial profiling, searches, police violence, arrests and incarceration of primarily students, faculty, and residents of color. As the once faint chorus of voices protesting these practices grows louder, colleges and universities are under increased pressure to respond.
At an increasing number of universities across the country, these coalitions are calling on administrations to cut ties with local police or disband campus police departments, saying that policing institutions enact violence upon Black people and threaten students of color. These advocates likewise contend that police presence on campus brings with it a more insecure environment for students of color. Monique Dixon, head of the NAACP’s Legal Defense Fund’s Policing Reform Campaign noted, when armed law enforcement responds to campus disruptions “there is a fear among Black and brown students that they will not survive the interaction with law enforcement. And frankly, that just shouldn’t be a concern among students and their families when they send their children off to school.”
Most college administrators, however, have resisted calls to eliminate campus police or end relationships with local municipal police forces, instead opting for the familiar middle ground of supporting enhanced training or urging police departments to adopt a “harm reduction” or community policing-type approach.
Campus advocates, however, including many at historically Black colleges and universities, view these approaches with skepticism, note that it is impossible to eliminate the bias and threat to students of color inherent in the policing system, and favor eliminating these police departments altogether. Instead, they argue, funding that is currently spent on campus policing should be redirected to “community-based alternatives, programs for education, youth and mental health services, and affordable housing.”
The debates surrounding eliminating or significantly shrinking police presence on campus is particularly pertinent now, as the current pandemic is leading colleges and universities to cut programs, staff and wages to adapt to reduced income and lower budgets. In light of these strained finances, there is little justification for a continued prioritization of policing on campus and the accompanying bloated budget.
Therefore, college and universities should:
- Eliminate campus police forces, particularly those composed of sworn, armed officers;
- To the extent necessary, replace campus police with a limited staff of unarmed security guards who can serve as sentries and resources for students and faculty in need of assistance;
- Limit security personnel to the campus itself and not patrol surrounding communities;
- Resolve incidents administratively when possible, especially when there are no allegations of force or physical harm.
- Engage in record-keeping to log all interactions between campus security and students, faculty, and members of the community no matter the outcome, and those records should be available to the public;
- Invest in community-based services, including mental health and substance use counseling, community educational and training programs, and other interventions proven to reduce crime in the surrounding community.