With the recent unrest surrounding police-involved shootings, especially of black men, policing will likely take a front seat throughout the remainder of the election.
Hillary Clinton faces the difficult task of navigating between two sentiments held by the electorate.
Relying on arrest data and the deaths of those like Michael Brown, Alton Stirling, and most recently, Terence Crutcher, the Black Lives Matter movement and its supporters feel police disproportionately use force against people of colour because of inherent racism present in the criminal-justice system.
The other end of the spectrum, however, feels police face unnecessary criticism for a difficult job that requires officers put their lives on the line everyday.
As a result of these opposing views, protests — both peaceful and not — have erupted in cities across the country. Take a look at how Clinton wants to address and remedy the growing schism.
National standards on use of force
To start, Clinton’s campaign website includes a section titled “criminal-justice reform” that focuses heavily on police reform. Most notably, she wants to strengthen bonds between communities and police — a strategy known as community policing that’s grown in popularity since the ’80s — and to develop national guidelines on officers’ use of force.
After the fatal shootings of Sterling in Louisiana and Philando Castille in Minnesota by police in July, Clinton said in a CNN interview that she would “implement the very comprehensive set of proposals that I’ve been making for more than a year, including we must do more to have national guidelines about the use of force by police, especially deadly force.”
Right now, no national standards exist for the use of force, or other policing tactics, for that matter. Based on various Supreme Court cases, an officer is legally justified using lethal force if the officer has an “objectively reasonable” belief that the person will cause death or serious injury to the officer, other officers, or the public.
Some organisations, like the Commission on Accreditation of Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA), attempt to offer some level of standardization, especially regarding use of force, by accrediting law-enforcement agencies around the country. CALEA, however, only creates general directives — not specific policies — that police departments must abide by to receive its stamp of approval.
Experts contend that varying demographics and differing crime levels in some places make developing these national policing standards difficult at best.
“I would not want inner city Chicago policies applied to my very rural community that I live within,” Travis Parrish, director of client services and relations for the CALEA, previously told Business Insider.
Stop-and-frisk and racial profiling
On a legislative level, Clinton hopes to end racial profiling, although she hasn’t given much detail as to how. In a meeting with black mothers whose children have died at the hands of police in Philadelphia in April, however, she did admit the “evidence people use to justify stop-and-frisk doesn’t hold up under scrutiny.”
As a long-term element of policing, especially in larger cities, stop-and-frisk policing requires officers to stop pedestrians, question them, and frisk them for weapons. The technique gained particular notoriety and scrutiny when a federal judge ruled New York City’s use of it unconstitutional and racially discriminating in 2014. Despite a court order three years ago, evidence suggests the NYPD hasn’t discontinued pursuing these types of stops.
In September, the Fraternal Order of Police, the largest police union in the country, endorsed Donald Trump’s candidacy. The group hasn’t endorsed a candidate in Bill Clinton since 1996, according to The Washington Post.
Clinton did not seek endorsement from the Order.
During the first presidential debate, however, Trump and Clinton went back and forth over the effectiveness of stop-and-frisk policing. Trump hinted at the policy as a catalyst for New York’s decreased murder and crime rates. Clinton disagreed.
Clinton: “Well, it’s also fair to say, if we’re going to talk about mayors, that under the current mayor, crime has continued to drop, including murders. So there is …”
Trump: “No, you’re wrong. You’re wrong.”
Clinton: “No, I’m not.”
Trump: “Murders are up. All right. You check it.”
Black Lives Matter
Techniques like stop-and-frisk can lead to racial profiling, which the Black Lives Matter movement claims is the main motivation of many police-involved shootings.
The logic goes that police simply see people of colour, especially black men, as more of a threat and react differently than they might with a white person.
While Clinton has unequivocally said, “yes, black lives matter,” and used much of the Democratic National Convention as an opportunity to appeal to minority voters, the former secretary of state remains a controversial option among activists, somewhat because of her husband’s support for tough-on-crime laws in the ’90s. The former president recently admitted those laws contributed to mass incarceration.
Funding for training and equipment
Aside from standardising use of force on a nationwide level, Clinton proposes to acknowledge and tackle the existence of implicit bias in policing by proposing $1 billion in her first budget to fund new and better training.
Experts on all sides of the issue — former officers, criminal-justice professors, and lawyers — nearly universally agree that a lack of training plagues police departments and the communities they serve. Specifically, many think today’s training fails to recognise the value of communication and de-escalation, which may cause officers to turn their weapons first.
Within the additional training, Clinton also wants to provide matching federal funds that will allow every police department to outfit itself with body cameras — a reform tactic that intensely divides expert opinion. While body cameras provide video evidence of interactions that could protect the interests of officers as much as the public, the fear of wrongdoing that comes with surveillance could make police less willing to engage with the public, and therefore, less effective.
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