There are many levels to social justice: Affordable housing, equal pay, Black Lives Matter, bullying, and public safety. Here are my thoughts.
Black Lives Matter or All Lives Matter?
My answer is very clear: Black Lives Matter.
If you would have read this article before Dec 12th, you would have read an entirely different blog. My opinion isn’t any different now, but my perception certainly is, so I’ve modified this blog to reflect my awakening. As a white male, I just didn’t get it. Black Lives Matter ISN’T about white people killing black people, it’s about police overreach and the majority of those people victimized by it are African Americans.
I feel like we have an outstanding police force, but I’m not blind to our history, and the plausibility of overreach and police brutality. We can minimize the risk of this happening by ensuring our force is properly trained in deescalation techniques. There is something else at play here, and it’s something I’m also concerned about. I’m worried about how our black community fears cops, and unfortunately, in today’s world, they have every right to feel that way. If I were a black man, I would be terrified of the police and while that’s not fair to our police, it’s justified by the number of senseless acts of violence we see in the news seemingly every day.
I’m an advocate of 24/7 body and dash cams. Technology is a great equalizer. Our black youth should be able to feel safe knowing that the person who has pulled them over is also being surveyed just as much as they are. But body cams don’t work when the police have control over when they can turn them on and off. They need to be running constantly and, given this technology currently exists, we need to implement it and ensure that our police force uses it.
This is not to go all “big brother” on our force. It’s to protect them so that if and when s#!+ goes down, they have the evidence to support that their training paid off and they did the right thing in that moment.
But that’s not enough. Police have a hard job. They have to protect and serve without letting their power of authority get ahead of them. This begins with making sure we are recruiting the right men and women, and also making sure that they receive constant reminders that they need to always be serving the public at a higher level of service than almost any other paid city employees. Put simply, as a law enforcement officer, you are expected to be above average even when you don’t feel like it.
Community Officers not just Law Enforcement
We need to begin a dialogue on how communities are being policed. I would like to enhance the roles of community resource officers in TPD. Our police department should have meaningful relationships and interactions with our communities. It is a shame that we only have 1 dedicated officer to interact with the Homeless population and a handful of officers dedicated to community policing. When I am Mayor I will enhance these positions so we gain a more sensitive and interactive community experience.
How are you going to keep us safe and protect us from mass shootings?
The honest answer to this question is we can’t protect you from mass shootings, but we can make sure we have a police force and a citizen force that is properly prepared for those situations to minimize the damage and neutralize the shooter at break-neck speeds.
This starts by making sure we’ve got the most vulnerable places for attack consistently connected to the police force. We start with public schools, then places of worship, and this means ALL places of worship. Mosques, Cathedrals, Mandiras, Churches, Temples, and Synagogues. We are a city that celebrates our diversity and protects all people regardless of their faith. Beyond that, we move to public centers like shopping malls and parks.
We should turn to our universities that have some of the brightest and most creative minds to develop real-time communication technology where any school faculty, and even the student body, can press a button on their desk, phones, or in the hallways, and it immediately alerts the police to respond and inform them precisely where the point of attack is occurring, based on the activation source and sequence of the alert system. This system could be integrated to immediately lock down portions of the buildings on the opposite sides of the attack to prevent the attackers from progressing into other rooms. The limits to what a protection system could do are limited only to our creativity, and the adherence to the constitution.