Thursday, July 14, 2016

President & Policing: What the Candidates Need to Consider

By Adjunct Professor Steve Lurie
Lieutenant, Los Angeles Police Department

The next president of the United States will lead our nation’s police through the most important four years in the history of American policing. Their most critical responsibility will be to rebuild the morale of our nation’s police officers. The president will inherit a nation where law enforcement professionals feel paralyzed. As a result, violent crime is rising in all of our major cities. Recruitment numbers are falling. Proactive policing is dying or dead. Without a motivated, professional police community, re-energized to walk the thin blue line, no progress will be made.

In tandem with this mission, the president must address communities who do not trust that policing is being done in a constitutional, even-handed manner. There is no doubt that a small percentage of officers make errors in judgment during their shifts. Even more rarely, an officer with bad intentions uses their power for evil. These breaches of the public trust are abhorrent and should be swiftly punished. Increased funding for body cameras and other accountability tools should come in the first 100 days of the new administration. Once deployed, these will show that police misconduct is extraordinarily uncommon. The current national tone far exaggerates the frequency of true wrongdoing by sworn officers.

Leadership on policing starts at the White House and the Attorney General’s office. Both of these have failed to curtail the fomentation of an environment where the police are viewed as the enemy, and the law breakers are empowered as never before in our history. The expected result, a marked increase in crime, is beginning to cast its cloud over our people. The next president of the United States must act immediately and decisively to turn back this storm in a way that strengthens the bond between members of law enforcement and the communities they serve.

Adjunct Professor Steve Lurie teaches the Police Practice Seminar at Loyola Law School. He is a lieutenant with the Los Angeles Police Department.

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