Law enforcement needs a method of recruitment which prioritizes finding members of local communities for training to become officers. The most important aspect of policing is community-based policing. Communities need to know and trust their officers, but its a two way street. Officers also need to understand and have trust in their communities. Knowing your local officers, having two way trust, and understanding the needs and concerns of residents is key to developing good law enforcement relations and safer outcomes for EVERYONE involved. Growing up in a community changes the perspective a person has, and gives the community a sense relation with their law enforcement. At the same time, over policing leads to over arresting, especially when coupled with policies such as “broken windows” confounding which communities actually need help and outside resources in dealing with problems of crime. Many times the best way to reduce crime is not to "crack down" with strict law enforcement but to build community relationships, invest in new businesses and public resources, build better public transportation, bringing in new educational opportunities, and giving young people productive work that pays better than miscellaneous illegal jobs with tangible results the entire community can benefit from.
We All Know Its Racist, and They Have No Lawyers
Our current prison system is stifling the opportunity cost of our country and state by limiting the working population and squandering tax payers dollars. The prison population has become a burden on the rest of society, and profit sucking, minimum occupancy payment requiring, private prisons waste taxpayer dollars and lead to deteriorating conditions among inmates as prison managers look to cut costs at all steps along the process. As much as people do not want to help criminals, the vast majority will eventually return to the general population. They can return "criminals", as per our current near 90% prison recidivism rates, or they can be given education programs, job training, and be paid a non slave labor wage (which amounts to tax payers directly subsidizing the companies that profit off this labor, Walmart) so they will have the tools to build a life when they leave prison. Dropping a person back into the world with potentially no money is just a terrible idea. When people leave prison they need a place to live, food to eat, and transportation from prison. On top of that, being a member of society is not free. It costs real money to get many forms of government issued identification which is required to get a job in the United States. In addition, we must tackle the current crisis facing public defenders, where many are so overworked that the people who need them are not given reasonable access as they are guaranteed under the constitution. Through increased access to public education, better community programs, public works, and a refocus of law enforcement efforts, we can train more public defenders and lighten their case loads so everyone can be represented fairly in the judicial process. We must do away with monetary bail systems which do nothing but discriminate against the poorest in our society who are already given limited access to, in all likelihood, one of those vastly overworked public defenders. Therefore condemning these people to jail while waiting potentially years for trial which is unconstitutional. Which of course leads to the other big drain on public resources, civil lawsuits against law enforcement. Time and time again it is revealed in the press that it is possible to identify these "bad apple" officers through their records and complaints. Because the expression is "a few bad apples spoil the barrel," not just "a few bad apples." Law enforcement needs that investment to upgrade their training to focus on issues we face now, in the modern era, and begin a new system of electronic records keeping to increase transparency, trust, and public accountability.
Why Not Try Something That Has Worked?
We need to legalize and regulate all drugs as controlled substances. Societies in general have been fighting wars on drugs since societies were a thing. None of them have ever been successful. Whether it be the Bureau of Narcotics fabricating societal drug problems; Nixon's war on drugs; the rampant lies, propaganda, and racist tactics surrounding Cannabis prohibition; to the most recent and extreme example, President Duterte of the Philippines and his indiscriminate, murderous war on drugs; there has never been a successful campaign against drugs lead by law enforcement. Drug addiction of all forms must be recognized as a mental illness and treated as such. We must recognize the only successful anti drug campaigns did not condemn the use of drugs, or stigmatize addicts in anyway. Look to the example of my birth place, the Netherlands, which focuses its efforts on keeping its citizens safe. The Netherlands offers clean nettles, purity testing, and safe places to users. Oh and they offer treatment services at every step of the process. Its been proven that the best way to help users of addictive drugs is by getting them to think about rehabilitation as many times and as frequently as possible. Acceptance, honest education, and making the safety of our citizens the number one priority is the best way to help those suffering from addiction. The first step is admitting you have a problem, and no one can ever force you to think that. It is a revelation one must arrive at themselves, and no amount of law enforcement or punishment will make that happen. A quick glance at some basic human psychology will show that if you want to change human behavior, use positive reinforcement.
Law Enforcement Has One Tough Job...
Our law enforcement faces possibly its most difficult time ever. They are commonly confronted with two conflicting objectives. Being the front line of defense against what is a growing problem of domestic terrorism while also being the front line of defense against a growing mental health crisis stemming from divestment in mental health services statewide. That being said, when officers kill a person in the line of duty and 25% of the time its a person suffering from a mental health crisis, that should be reflected in their training. However, police spend about 8 times the hours on firearms training as on mental health crisis training. Our policing methods must change as society changes and the threats we face change. This could potentially go as far as new officers being required to take a short psychiatric rotation at local mental hospitals as training for what they absolutely will see during their day to day activities. Police militarization is about more than weaponry. Our soldiers go through rigorous training and as a result are the best soldiers on the planet. If we want to militarize our police, then lets do so; beginning in the classroom, where our officers will receive more in depth, more rigorous training for the battle against mental illness and terrorist threats they will be fighting day in and day out.
Taking Away Guns Gives No One Hope
The battle against gun violence begins in a person's youth. Education is possibly the best to prevent gun violence, as people tend to commit less violent crime the more educated they are, while also living longer healthier lives. It makes sense to ban assault weapons in cities due to the potential for collateral damage, but it is not a statewide issue. Hand guns are the most common source of gun crime and must be stemmed up stream by universal background checks, which Illinois can get the ball rolling on. Fully funding mental health services will prevent more gun crime. Public works and a higher minimum wage will prevent even more gun crime by instilling hope in communities. We accept that here in America, people are trustworthy enough to have guns just like they have cars. It comes with a certain amount of risk no matter what, but that risk is something we have decided we are okay with as Americans. The number one thing we can do to prevent gun violence is by ensuring that everyone sees themselves as a member of society with a future where people need them. To loosely quote a former Chicago Chief of Police, show me a person with no hope, I'll show you a person willing to pick up a gun and do anything with it. Fighting poverty, income inequality, social injustices, and creating reasonable social mobility expectations are the only ways to curb gun violence.