Something rather remarkable has happened. It was only a few months ago that the nightly news regularly featured another video of an unarmed person being shot to death by a police officer. Now, shootings like that seem to be a relatively rare occurrence.
It’s too soon to declare the epidemic over, but there has been a change. And how does the Trump administration respond? By proposing to eliminate consent decrees, those legal devices whereby the Justice Department monitors police agencies with more than their share of civil rights issues.
Did consent decrees in Baltimore and Chicago and elsewhere end the shootings? No. It’s more likely that it was simply the proliferation of phones with video capabilities and the increasing chance that violent confrontations would be filmed. Some law enforcement advocates suggest it’s because police officers have been intimidated and are policing the streets less aggressively and making fewer arrests. Others note that the bulk of the videotaped shooting deaths involved traffic stops or nuisance arrests, not armed robberies.
The Partisan would love to hear from those in law enforcement and others who care about public safety issues. Have there been changes in policies and practices? Are you concerned about the president’s pronouncements about getting tougher on crime and reviving the so-called War on Drugs? Can police departments be self-governing and self-monitoring or do they need civilian oversight?