Thursday, September 22, 2016

No More Fear: Decriminalization, De-escalation & Demilitarization

Police training needs to change. No more excuses. We live in a beautiful world and are ready to grow past being a culture within which perceived danger habitually justifies murdering innocent people.

Let's be brave enough to accept this as truth.

Let's be strong enough to do something about it.

Personally, I believe that decriminalization, de-escalation and demilitarization are key.

Decriminalization, across the board, allows police to do their highest duty as protectors of our society rather than to confuse this duty with enforcing codes and persecuting non-violent offenders. Furthermore, the racial bias which becomes normalized through enforcing benign violations will begin to fade when those violations no longer fall under police jurisdiction.

De-escalation refers to the tactics police use when confronting a potentially dangerous situation. De-escalation tactics would empower the officer to gain control of a situation by taking the energy out of it and subduing the alleged perpetrator without using force. Presently, officers have a tendency to escalate rather than de-escalate. Loud stern voices, rapid demands, drawn guns, and chases make everyone involved more afraid and prone to doing something quick and drastic with irreversible consequences.

Demilitarization would send officers and civilians the message that we are not a war. It is an important thing to remember, especially when our country is actively engaged in conflict abroad. Think for a moment about what may happen if a driver with PTSD and and officer with PTSD meet during a routine traffic stop at which one person has shown up armed for battle. The potential for unwarranted danger is too great.

I feel it goes without saying that systemic change within the USA begins at the level of the individual. If you personally feel a change is needed, you have to speak up in some way—either on your own or as part of an organization which supports your voice. Most recently, I have done this via my work with NORML, which advocates for the reform of marijuana law to support adult cannabis use. I view this topic as having a broad reaching scope which overlaps significantly with police reform and civil rights activism. I also realize that the focus on cannabis serves as a limit, and I am consciously opening myself to work with additional groups which take a more general approach to understanding, protecting and defending human rights. For your reference (and hopefully inspiration), I am making a list of these, plus one resource article, here:

  ACLU

 Amnesty International USA

The Coffee Party

 15 Things You Can Do Right Now to End Police Brutality 

Finally, while being a little esoteric, I think there is value in each of us considering the degree to which decriminalization, de-escalation and demilitarization factor into our individual, private lives. For example, do we have too strident measures of what constitutes “right” and “wrong” action? Is this getting in the way of our ability to have authentic relationships with our loved ones and ourselves? Are we feeding negative situations and behaviors by bringing energy to them? Are we taking rapid, thoughtless action, when it would be better to give certain situations space and time for a more diplomatic response to form? Are we losing out by approaching life like it is a frightening battle instead of like it is an uncertain adventure to face with with confidence and awareness, one moment at a time?

 I do not believe there are set, uniform answers to these questions. However, answering them can open a door to deeper knowledge which helps us all be better. Finally, a video from Vox while your thoughts settle . . .

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