When I was a child Jumping double-dutch on the sidewalks, playing stick ball or skelly in the streets, worrying about your mom seeing you play in the middle of the street or looking out for cars driving through so you don’t get hit or worrying about not having any quarters for when the ice-cream truck roll by and planning to run to the window and scream to your parents who are looking out the window for money even though you know the answer will be no because you just had ice-cream yesterday. These should be the only types of worries that children should have but that is not the case for young Black children growing up today. Their main worry is wondering if they will make it to adulthood alive or die at the hands of someone who’s supposed to be protecting them and that’s not right!
To Protect and Serve; that is their motto but exactly who are they protecting and who are they serving? Abuse of authority has been running rampant throughout the US and it is especially so in NYC. Whenever there is a violation by a police officer the union protects them even when it is clear they are guilty. The union and the entire police force act as if there were never any crooked police officers and demanding respect at news conferences forgetting that respect goes both ways and is earned. History tells us police are often found participating in criminal activity which often goes ignored until somebody decides it is enough and stands up to the corruption.
Today, Black and Brown people fear for their lives at the sight of the police. Corruption has gotten so out of control that George Floyd, Brionna Taylor, Eric Garner and so many more have been murdered without any real consequences for the officers.
When it comes to the police, we need to get rid of the bad, keep the good, and retrain those who remain so the relationship between the public and the police can begin to heal and we create a brand-new meaning of “protect and serve.” To start, we need to:
1. Demilitarize the police. Stop the 1033 program which allows local precincts to get surplus militarized equipment. Take away all of the gear that is meant to support our military. The citizens of our state are not enemy combatants and should not be treated that way. The money saved by demilitarizing the police can be used in other much needed community programs.
2. Work with government officials in this state and other states to help abolish qualified immunity.
3. Firing all of the dangerous police that are on the force. You know the nazis, the so called proud boys, and other white supremacists that managed to infiltrate the police force. Or, the ones who’ve committed offences but have basically gone unpunished even when there is video. They claim they feared for their life each time when asked. If they are so afraid of patrolling neighborhoods with people of color then they should stay out of them and not be allowed to walk through carrying weapons with itchy trigger fingers making innocent people feel afraid in their own neighborhoods. The sight of that blue uniform should induce comfort not fear.
4. Hiring more officers in internal affairs and insuring they have more resources for investigations.
5. All new hires should have at least a two-year Associates degree in Criminal Justice. They should have to pass a test to get their license to serve (like nurses do or the bar exam for lawyers) which has to be renewed every four years via their community board of the neighborhood they serve and carry an insurance policy (like the malpractice insurance doctors carry). Once on the job they will be assigned to duties that do not require a weapon and will earn their weapon use after two years on the job training.
6. Renewal of License: Just like businesses have to renew their liquor licenses, police officers should be required to have a license which needs to be renewed every four years by community boards. With their employee evaluations, disciplinary, and accommodation records presented, current PT (Physical Training) test and gun re-qualifications passed, officers will need to make their case of why they should remain on the force and then the floor is opened to residents who may have positive or negative comments about the possible renewal. Then the board will vote on whether that officer should be renewed or not and send their recommendations to the Chief of Police. This will give the community more control over who is patrolling their neighborhoods and it is an incentive for officers to do a good job, protect people more than property, and be less concerned about the color of someone’s skin, their religion, or a collar quota they are trying to make.
7. Training: Make sure all officers that remain after the racist and incompetent officers are let go get completely retrained. This would include conflict resolutions and deescalating situations, dealing with mentally ill, dealing with autistic individuals, dealing with the deaf and understanding that a person having an attitude is rude but not a crime. Also, hand to hand combat for handling criminals who have knifes not guns. Shooting should be a last resort especially when there is only one perpetrator but several police. Making sure the broken window theory is NEVER used in our neighborhoods ever again.
8. Better utilize auxiliary police. They should receive proper salary and get trained to do the wellness checks and standard patrols in neighborhoods and other low-level reports for assistance. This way, we have unarmed officers patrolling our residential streets and the armed police will come as needed. If they find they need someone with weapons, they can call for back up like any other officer. They should also receive hand to hand combat training. This will cut down on unnecessary deaths by people who can’t tell the difference between a wallet, phone, and gun
9. Make sure all police have access to mental health professionals. The job is stressful and they need to have clear minds to make good decisions as they patrol our neighborhoods.
10. Raise the pay of the officers who remain. If they are paid a proper salary, they may be less likely to turn to crime to make extra money.
11. Ensure that officers have manageable workloads and don't do a lot of overtime. Being tired may cause poor judgments and endanger the neighborhood.
12. Track and make disciplinary actions on police available to the public and in a timely manner. They are public servants and we have the right to know what’s happening. New Yorkers deserve more transparency with police departments in general.
13. Ensuring bodycams stay turned on while on duty and made available to defendants within 48 hours after an incident occur. People lie but videos don’t. If it is good enough to use to convict a person then it should be good enough to discipline an officer when caught during misconduct. Stop officers from covering their badge numbers and names so that they can't be reported.
I am not anti-police I am anti-police brutality. I am anti abuse of authority and I am against unequal policing of our communities. We always hear “but there are good cops out there” and yes, I believe there are and I know a few. But just like the signs plastered all over the city regarding terrorism… ”If you see something say something” Well if you good cops SEE SOMETHING then “YOU” should SAY SOMETHING. It’s not being a snitch or a rat, it’s your job!
Our prisons need to be about more than just punishment.
Bail reform and the closing of Rikers are good first steps, but our entire prison system needs reform. Currently, our prisoners are forced to do slave labor and earn pennies on the dollar. While in prison, instead of learning a trade or life skills like how to find employment or how to establish good credit, prisoners learn how to be better criminals. When I’m elected, I intend to:
Invest in schools, community programs, small businesses and jobs so that people have opportunities to learn and grow so that they don’t feel desperate enough to turn to crime.
Stop charging children as adults. Sometimes kids make mistakes. We need to teach them to make better choices, not lock them up with adult sentences.
Educate inmates and teach them how to be good citizens and pay them a fair minimum wage while working in prison which will allow them to build a bank account and pay any fines or restitution payments to victims.
Provide inmates with access to quality mental healthcare including therapy and anger management skills.
Develop programs to prepare inmates for life after prison in order to reduce the high rate of recidivism. Right now, when someone gets out of prison, they face hiring and housing discrimination so it’s no wonder they end up back in the system. We need to provide them with tools, skills and the hope needed to live better lives after release.
Push to end the privatization of prisons. No one should ever make money off imprisoned people.