As people of color consistently get mistreated, often brutally, by police, we tend to hear a familiar refrain:
“I know what will solve this issue: body cameras!”
“Let’s have more community meetings, so that both sides can listen to each other.”
“They should just fire the bad officers. There are lots of good police out there.”
While all of these solutions represent positive steps, they put bandaids on the issue and often don’t address it at all.
There were cameras on Terrence Crutcher and the cop got off. There were cameras on Tamir Rice and the cops got off. There were cameras on Walter Scott and the cop got off from the worst of the charges.
The reality is that most police officers just don’t care if they’re being watched or not. It doesn’t stop the brutality. And the study in the above hyperlink is a hypothetical best case scenario.
Cops know that if they get fired from a department, they’ve likely got a job waiting for them somewhere else.
Here’s an idea, even though the Supreme Court might think it’s a bad one: what if cops who assault people get arrested and thrown in jail? What if cops who shoot unarmed individuals with intent get arrested and go to jail? What if cops who conspire to cover up said atrocities get arrested and go to jail?
It may be an effective deterrent for police officers who seem to behave with impunity. At the very least, the “bad apples” will be picked out. And can anyone answer the question as to why police shouldn’t be held to the same legal standards as civilians? Why shouldn’t they, especially when you take into account the effect their actions have on the general public: lives lost, families shattered and hundreds of millions of dollars worth of lawsuit settlements.