This isn't just a problem for "other" cities. Remember Akiel Denkins? His mother lived a block from my house. The problem is in our schools too with School Resource Officers. Police are ever-present and though we may have asked for their protection, children and adults are both confronted with fines, incarceration, and the resulting fractured community.
The current ideology of sufficient training for police and just obeying the laws are not enough. Both are fine ideas, but don’t take into account that people do bad things and we just can’t stop that entirely. In order to restore trust in police departments as a whole we have to be critical of ourselves and how this country became the most incarcerated in the world, mostly on the backs of brown and black citizens.
We need to totally restructure the idea of law enforcement in communities across America. How do we do that here in Raleigh? This will require close cooperation between the police chief and city council. The real solution is to transition the concept from enforcement to service. Currently, the ultimate goal of police is enforcement which is the very thing that brought us to this horrible condition.
My Proposal: No Stop Ticketing
My first program called No Stop Ticketing is an umbrella approach that demands safety and protection to be the first and last stops for officers. No Stop Ticketing will integrate with other city programs focused on a total social solution to enforce only what is absolutely necessary.
We have the ability to work with the Raleigh PD to reduce which public order crimes need to be enforced. We should analyze the economic and social impact of these victimless crimes to see if the laws are really worth enforcing at all.
No Stop Ticketing is possible because of our available technology. As with red light cameras, ticketing can often be accomplished with a camera and the mail. Certain speeding tickets and other moving violations do not require tense standoffs at the driver’s window. The city may place a registration stop on vehicles until tickets are fully processed.
Pretext stops are those that are often imagined by officers simply because a situation doesn’t look right. This is frequently associated with profiling. Police must state the reason for a stop before approaching the vehicle of a driver. Statistics should be supplied to the public in order to increase confidence in police dedication to service first attitudes.
Improper equipment is a pretext for investigation that is abused all too often. For broken tail lights and cracked windows, unless there is true danger, the No Stop Ticketing method should be employed with a small modification. Instead of a ticket, the driver will be mailed a coupon for repair at a trade education facility.
No Stop Ticketing applied to improper equipment will avail a new opportunity to teach at risk youth how to make small repairs and earn money, providing them hope for employment, resources to begin their young lives, and the ability to self-sustain their own future.
When an officer has reason to believe that a citizen has broken a civil code that absolutely requires an enforcement stop, they must begin by providing pedestrians and drivers a copy of their constitutional rights on a pocket sized card.
The Raleigh Police Department should be forward looking and stop using the scent of marijuana as a pretext for further investigation.