It’s Time to Implement Police Reform

It's Time to Implement Police Reform

Jacqueline Richer, Staff Writer

Derek Chauvin was convicted on April 20 of all charges in the death of George Floyd after he knelt on his neck for over nine minutes. 

Chauvin is being held accountable for his actions and could face up to 40 years in prison. 

As someone who has lived in Lake Bluff for the majority of their life, violence from the police was not a concern that I grew up with. I never feared the police and thought that they were there to protect everyone regardless of race, ethnicity, background or social status. 

However, the murder of George Floyd is one of the cases that has shifted my perspective on some law enforcement officers and how they treat people differently than others when there is conflict. 

Unfortunately, the Chauvin case is not an isolated incident. 

Around the same time that Chauvin was convicted, a deputy killed a man named Andrew Brown Jr. in North Carolina after executing a search warrant at Brown’s residency. There are still not clear answers to why the officers shot Brown. 

A few days earlier, 13-year old Adam Toledo was killed as well by an officer in Chicago. The officer shot him even after the boy put his hands up and looks to have dropped a gun. 

In Minneapolis, 20-year old Daunte Wright was shot during a traffic stop after the officer accidentally shot him when she meant to taser him. 

All of these killings happened within a week , again raising questions about police use of deadly force. 

The National Academy of Sciences predicts “about 1 in every 1,000 black men can expect to be killed by police. Black women and men and American Indian and Alaska Native women and men are significantly more likely than white women and men to be killed by police. Latino men are also more likely to be killed by police than are white men.” 

These startling statistics point to the undeniable fact minorities have a more significant chance of being killed by law enforcement, simply for their ethnicity or race. Data collected from The Washington Post states that “the rate at which black Americans are killed by police is more than twice as high as the rate for white Americans.”

No one should feel like they have a target on their back simply for the way that they look. 

Convicting the officers involved is only part of the solution. Instead of trying to mend the problem after the crime has been committed, we must fight to attack this issue at the root. 

The first step? Hold all officers accountable for their actions, especially those involved in homicides or needless acts of aggression towards those who had surrendered.

Second, police officers across the country should be involved in a mandatory nationwide retraining program to ensure that the right approach is used to de-escalate high pressure situations instead of resorting to violence. 

John DeCarl, who was a part of the Branford Police force for 34 years, said “there ought to be a national curriculum for policing, or a national certification and minimum qualifications for police chiefs at the very least.” 

If the government could get involved with implementing new programs designed to keep the public safer against police brutality, it is possible that positive change could be made. Future lives could be saved. 

And justice could be gained for those who lost their lives before their time was up.