Latest in a series of posts on the George Floyd killing
So, in response to a need for local action regarding police/minority issues stemming from the murder of George Floyd, Councilman Reynolds and Councilwoman Crampsie Smith have proposed to Chief DiLuzio a plan “concerning two areas that we feel need to be priorities for our City moving forward”: Use of Force Directives and a Community Engagement Initiative.
Tip o’ the hat to the Councilmembers for stepping up.
They made their proposal to Chief DiLuzio. How will Chief Diluzio respond?
The Chief has been asked to respond by June 15 (before the next Council meeting), and Gadfly hears that a Public Safety Committee meeting is in the formative stages.
Let’s take the two parts of the proposal individually.
First, the use of force directives. The Councilmembers’ proposal says:
There has been national discussion recently about a set of policy directives related to use of force directives within police departments (generally referred to as “8 can’t wait”). We have received significant support from the members of our community about the implementation of these principles here in Bethlehem. The directives are attached to this memo [see the last page of the proposal here]. In connection with the directive, we have the following questions:
(1) How many of these eight directives are currently included in our use of force guidelines?
(2) For the directives currently not in place, what is your stance on adding them to our current guidelines?
(3) What are our annual training requirements for our police department?
(4) What percentage of the training time is spent on de-escalation?
If the conversations with Councilmembers Crampsie Smith and Colon that succeeded his “George Floyd’s Death & Policing in America” statement on behalf of the police department at last week’s Council meeting are any indication, the Chief will be eager to answer Council questions about police department policies and training, confident that the department is well ahead of the pack in implementation of the positive measures to control unnecessary violence capsuled in the “8 can’t wait” principles (see chart below and, again, see the last page of the Councilmembers’ proposal here).
Followers know that Gadfly always recommends that you go to the primary sources and form your own opinions.
Thus he recommends very strongly that you take less than 5 minutes each to listen to these interchanges. Don’t just read Gadfly’s summary paraphrasing.
Councilwoman Crampsie Smith and Chief DiLuzio
The Councilwoman asks the Chief about training. All officers have body cams. The kinds of things people are asking for have been in place for years. We are accredited at the national and state level. We do escalation, we do crisis intervention, we have a strict use of force policy. We learn from our mistakes. We’re in front of what people are talking about and have been so for 10-15 years. We do training, qualification, recertification yearly. We have a training division, and that’s all they do constantly. We have courses endorsed by the minority communities. We are a diverse department and every year get more diverse. The training is continuous. We were in front of deescalation training.
Councilman Colon and Chief DiLuzio (listen to the Chief’s comments toward the beginning as well as at the end of the interchange)
The criminal justice system is broken. What I saw in Minneapolis was disgusting. Americans don’t act that way, cops don’t act that way. That was murder what you saw on national tv, period. This is going to take a change at many levels. Nothing is going to change overnight. The system is 50 years behind the times. It’s not what fits society today.
What are you thinking about this part of the Councilmembers’ proposal and the Chief’s comments regarding police department policies and training?
Followers have already posted here about the need for the “8 can’t wait” principles, and it sounds like we will learn in more detail that they are all in place.
But, though proper policies are in place and proper training is implemented, there is still the question of outcomes.
Have these policies — stringently applied and enforced as they might be — successfully eradicated or reduced cases of violent police behavior? Is there any data on that?
One can expect that Derek Chauvin had training. Training can’t guarantee the proper outcome.
Why is the City “out front” in training? What’s the history here? The Chief made the interesting comment that “we learn from our mistakes.” What did he mean by that? What’s the context for that? What mistakes? So, is there a baseline that would help us determine the efficacy of all our energy put into training?
And, as Breena Holland and others have pointed out, there is a level of behavior beneath, as it were, violence that is still racist and, Gadfly would say, just as insidious. What can we say about that? Have there been citizen complaints, either formal or informal? Have there been incidents? Have there been disciplinary consequences? Have there been “talkings to”? Who keeps track of such things? Gadfly hears murmurs of insensitive behavior by police with minorities that doesn’t turn violent and doesn’t make the papers. Is there evidence of such?
In this regard, Gadfly will go next to the handling of the marijuana enforcement to which Breena also called attention.
You have the Chief’s long statement and his conversations with Councilmembers.
It’s important that we have trust in the Chief.