OPINION: Retraining — not Defunding — the Police is the Answer

Police officers stand guard to make sure protesters do not disturb the community.

Police officers stand guard to make sure protester’s do not disturb the community.

Over the past year police have been put into a bad light in the public’s eye. The George Floyd incident led to the Black Lives Matter protests, and that led people to talk about defunding the police. However, rather than defunding the police, other things can be done to improve relations. 

For one, police should receive better training. Police officers are trained in a way to protect themselves. Sometimes that means shooting first if they feel threatened. In order to preserve the community’s trust with the public, the department needs to fix the way they train officers, so police officers see suspects as people — not just as someone trying to attack or hurt them, but as someone who needs help. There also are racial issues that need to be discussed. 

Another thing that could be done rather than defund the police is to teach officers to assess their actions. After a call or an incident happens, police officers should go back over their feed and assess if anything should have been done differently and if they can back up everything they did. This might make some police officers mad, but they need to go the extra mile in order to establish trust.

Finally, the public can do it’s part, too. People should not go to extremes when talking about the police. They are human, and the problem of police brutality is complex. They fear for their life a lot of the time. My father was a police officer, and now that he is retired he often tells me, “I was scared I wouldn’t come home, but I would do everything I could to.” I also have several family friends who are currently serving on the force, who are genuinely good people. They work day and night serving our community and the people in it. People should get to know police officers more. Even the most simple gesture like offering them a drink when they see them in their community, will help improve relations. In order to establish trust, both sides must give a little.

Yes, the George Floyd situation was a bad situation that could have been handled better, but it is complex. Floyd had Fentanyl and Methamphetamine in his system along with having COVID at the time he died. It was not right for the police officer to keep he knee on his neck until he couldn’t breathe, but Floyd was not completely innocent. And most officers would not act how that one did.

We need police, so instead of arguing about defunding them, put all that energy towards coming up with programs to help change things. The police will work with the community to try to change things. The community just needs to be open to it.