If the collective we accept the status quo and seek only reform, intensively screening officers for implicit bias, mandating routine racial sensitivity training for officers, and mandating that police departments reflect the racial demographics of the communities they’re located in, are logical conclusions any reasonably moral person would draw. However, if it’s an end to police abuse of oppressed nationalities that we’re after, police hiring reforms are grossly insufficient to the task. It’s true that there are some truly hateful, excessively violent and openly racist cops out there and yet, even if we were rid of all of them, our criminal justice system would remain extremely biased, hateful and prejudiced towards black people. Our police would still be overly militarized, prioritize profit seeking, put capital before people and treat criminalization as job security. We can collectively do better. We can end occupational policing altogether. Communities can provide for their own safety and security without heavily armed occupying forces patrolling them. Baltimore City Councilman recently proposed disbanding the Baltimore City Police Department and doing just this. I mention this to point out that political momentum is with this transformation in policing.
As long as MD policing culture remains on the trajectory it has for decades, no amount of intervention or change in hiring practices will deter ongoing prejudice, bias, and hate towards black people. Even if the most successful hiring practice is formed and maintained, and people without known prejudice, bias, and hate towards black people are hired. These newly hired people will still be subject to enforcing discriminatory and racist rules, procedures, and laws. And this just covers overt racism and biases, what about implicit biases? Could implicit biases really be determined and weeded out during hiring? Most likely not as implicit biases are just that, implicit. Consequently, I call for an end to occupational policing altogether, and the beginning of true community policing. To end this hierarchical and racial system that has been inflicted on communities, communities must unite together and provide for their own safety and security. In this system, community members work together to make decisions and police their own communities. Accountable community members, working together, making decisions and policing their own communities is the only way to ensure our police are out here genuinely serving and protecting US. Social workers, harm reductionists, counselors, community members trained in conflict resolution and de-escalation can far better accommodate public safety than an unaccountable, highly armed occupying force that makes potential victims of us all.
Policing communities in Maryland and all throughout the US are a toxic, corrupt, and insular culture, that are negatively compounded by significant lack of accountbility mechanisms and powerful legal/political apparatuses to prevent reform, such as the Maryland Police Bill of Rights. Attempts at reform, even with federal oversight, such as the recent Baltimore Consent Decree, ultimately couldn’t even scratch the surface of the misconduct in Baltimore Policing. That an entire squad, not a few bad apples, could just go about robbing/killing the community for years w/o anyone in the department coming forward or community members being believed, is an injustice beyond words. It’s also significant to note that the national condemnation of Baltimore residents for stealing those drugs from the CVS during the Freddy Grey riots perpetuated and normalized a lot of hate for local communities of color. When it was discovered that it had actually been the Gun Trace Task Force behind the theft, where was the same outrage?
Though it caught him a lot of heat, (D) Councilman Ryan Dorsey had the right idea I think, end Baltimore City occupational policing altogether. If our legislators aren’t that bold, and don’t intend to do away with occupational policing altogether, a department reset, whereby all staff and administrators are fired and made to reapply is the only way we get even close to breaking down some of the especially malicious elements unique to Baltimore City Policing. Upon rehiring we’d have to ensure that the new department was comprised of actual community members, not colonizers from white suburban neighborhoods who come into Baltimore, harass its residents and then go home, far away from the negative social conditions they’ve produced. Additionally, Baltimore City Police must at bare minimum participate in de-escalation training, unconscious bias training, and coursework on US black history and racial injustice in this country, particularly regarding community-police relations. We need to repeal MD Police Bill of Rights protections that obstruct police accountability. Furthermore, the Baltimore City Police department requires oversight from an independent citizen review board with subpoena power and the ability to trigger investigations into incidents of police violence; as well as implement City wide demilitarization.
System wide we must reexamine the necessity of these occupational policing armies in our communities altogether. We must challenge the wisdom of providing financial incentives to impose harmful conditions on our communities or of perpetuating institutions too toxic and insular to reasonably expect reform. We should seriously consider replacing our communities police with a relief army of social workers, behavioral interventionists, teachers, psychologists, professionals qualified to solve social problems rather than just violently disappearing them.
Enough is enough. We demand these murderous, abusive and profit seeking forces in our communities be disbanded. Maryland’s institutions of policing are not about citizen protection and service, they’re committed to class control and in service to maintaining the dystopian capitalist property and labor relations favorable to that classes profit motives.
Mass incarceration and police violence are at epidemic proportions. They are a blight on our society and most certainly antithetical to human rights. To compound matters, the recipients of this violence are primarily low income and minority communities who are already extremely vulnerable, people who live and suffer through the harsh contradictions of capitalism daily.
As politically incorrect as it may be to publicly recognize, the experiences of oppressed peoples and objective material analysis, clearly indicate “professional” police don’t “protect and serve” the vast majority of us. Low income and racially oppressed folks know all too well, police are just out to accuse and abuse us. US occupational policing culture is a uniformly toxic, reactionary, corrupt, and insular institution. The institutions internal shortcomings are further compounded by significant deficits in officer and institutional accountability, perpetuated by powerful legal and political apparatuses for suppressing reform. An objective historical analysis of US occupational policing reveals it’s foundation roots in the early American slave catching industry. Far from being an institution that’s “lost its way”, institutions of policing in this country have been instruments of oppression, violence and dehumanization since their inception.
If you’re still skeptical, ask yourself one question, when was the last time your local police used chemical weapons or firehoses on a corporate board caught ravaging a community?