It is clear – no matter what side of the aisle you are on – that our country is changing. We’ve watched it unfold since the tragic, nauseating, senseless murder of George Floyd on May 25. Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time we have seen this series of events unfold in America. And even more unfortunately, these events almost always create unmatched political strife, division, and conflict among the American people. I wrote a piece on July 7, 2016 following the officer-involved shootings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. You can find it here. I stand by a lot of what I said back then, but my eyes have opened after observing the country’s reaction to George Floyd and further educating myself on the realities of 2020. I am not going to pretend the riots, looting, arson, and senseless murder aren’t also happening, but that’s for another time. Those awful occurrences are distracting from the heart of this movement – from all of the people who want change and are demanding it in lawful ways which are protected under our Constitution.
There is so much pressure to be on one “side” or the other. You can’t support police because then you’re a racist. You can’t support BLM and the movement because then you hate police. The extreme reactions – on both sides – have never led to any meaningful change in the past. I have received so much hate on Twitter the last few days because of my opinions on this issue. Many people (on both sides) are still forcing the extremist narrative of “if you’re not with us, you’re against us.” I refuse to accept that if I am supportive of and recognize our good police it means that I am a racist and that if I point out that police reform is a viable and necessary step in evolving as a country then I hate police.
I have always staunchly supported police. I was raised by a police officer and I truly believe that most police officers are good people – people who would willingly lay down their lives to protect and serve the communities and people they police. However, I can no longer ignore that while most cops are good people, there are steps we need to take as citizens to demand reform in American policing.
I’m not sure what it is, but this time feels different. There is a unity and solidarity we are all witnessing that cannot be ignored. People are listening, people are educating themselves, people are expanding their worldviews. I am not alone in this. I have felt inspired by all of the positive, peaceful protests that have been occurring around the country. I have begun to understand that I can support and stand behind good police, while still recognizing the downfalls of the current system and the need for reform. Doing so will only create more good police and ensure that people are pursuing careers in law enforcement for the right reasons.
That’s when I stumbled across #8cantwait. I researched further and felt compelled to use my platform to share this amazing resource. #8cantwait has studied police use of force policies in departments around the country for years. You can read their Use of Force Study here. #8cantwait encourages the implementation of eight use of force policies that when required in police training and protocol, can decrease police violence by 72%. There are always going to be times when police don’t have a choice but to use deadly force, I am not naïve to this. However, there are many times when deadly or excessive force is used unnecessarily. That is not a controversial statement, it’s a fact. It’s why we are where we are today.
Here are the #8cantwait policies:
- Banning chokeholds and strangleholds – requires officers to use less lethal force when possible, as choke and strangleholds can result in unnecessary death or injury due to oxygen and blood restricted or cut off to the brain.
- Requiring de-escalation – requires officers to attempt to de-escalate when possible by communicating, maintaining distance, and eliminating the need to use force (for example, the fences in front of the White House separating law enforcement from protestors resulted in no physical conflict between the two groups – bravo).
- Require warning before shooting – requires officers to give verbal warning, when possible, before opening fire.
- Require exhausting all alternatives before shooting – requires officers to exhaust all other reasonable means before resorting to deadly force.
- Duty to intervene – requires officers to intervene and stop excessive force used by other officers and report the incident immediately to a supervisor.
- Banning shooting at moving vehicles – restricts officers from shooting at moving vehicles.
- Require use of force continuum – develops a force continuum that limits the types of force and/or weapons that can be used to respond to specific types of resistance.
- Require comprehensive reporting – requires officers to report each time they use physical force or threaten to use physical force against civilians (including weapons).
Reading over these eight policies, I was honestly shocked and enlightened to learn that these are not standard in all police departments across the country. None of the eight policies are extremist or put our police at greater risk for harm. They all seem like common sense policies to me. None of these policies tell police they should put their own lives at risk against potential threats, or that they can’t EVER use these methods if lethal force is necessary (because sometimes it is) – they just offer protocol to better handle potentially threatening and dangerous situations.
8cantwait.org has a drop-down menu where you can select your city and see which of the 8 use of force policies your local police have in place. They also provide the contact information for your local mayor or sheriff, as well as a script you can use to contact them to let them know that EIGHT CAN’T WAIT. I feel so moved and inspired by this resource because they offer real, sensible policy proposals that will make policing safer for everyone – officers and civilians. I was shocked to find out that Portland Police do not enforce policies number one, four, or six. I am drafting an e-mail to Mayor Wheeler and will post that separately as a template for you to send to your local sheriff/mayor too.
#8cantwait offers real solutions to real problems, and the power all lies with us; We the People. We must demand change from the leaders that work for us. We must demand tangible action as a collective whole – that is what our country was founded on. We are lucky to live in a country where we can make a difference and make our voices heard. #8cantwait is a movement that can and will inspire change, but only if We the People participate. #8cantwait is nonpartisan. #8cantwait is not controversial or divisive. #8cantwait are common sense policies and protocols that will protect both our police and the communities they protect. #8cantwait is an incredible opportunity for the first step in systematic police reform that doesn’t demonize police, BLM, republicans, or democrats. #8cantwait offers information, educates, and encourages action from you and me – as only action will create lasting change. #8cantwait is a movement we can all get behind and I encourage us all to demonstrate the rights that are protected under our Constitution. Black, white, police, civilian, republican, democrat – we are all human. #8cantwait is a human movement, and I hope you join me in creating the change we want to see.
My Twitter DMs are open for questions, concerns, and further information. Let’s get involved. Let’s evolve. Let’s change the world around us, one e-mail, tweet, and phone call at a time.