Use of Force Registry: Part 1
There has been a growing discussion, and debate, on the issues of police brutality. The stories of George Floyd, and Breonna Taylor are some of the notable stories that have brought this issue to the forefront in recent years. However, other names and other stories have been fueling a fire for decades. But what is the real problem, and therefore what is the real answer?
Some have proposed that the development of a "Use of Force Registry" will help make the police accountable to the public, and where the public can take action in reducing such uses of force. The FBI gathers some data on uses of force, but how accessible and meaningful is this data? Are these incidents self-reported and if so using what criteria? As we will see, this issue is very complicated, and nuanced. What one person may call a use of force, is not considered by another to be the same. Even then, just because there is a use of force, does it mean that it was unjustified? We hope to develop and propose legislation for a use of force registry that we feel will help to address a complex but urgent issue, on this episode of Freelance Legislator.
Generate ordinance language for a use of force registry that can be used by cities, or counties, or states, to increase transparency and accountability.
Identify Applicable Core Governance Principles
Identify stake holders
Gather input from stake holders and public
Craft starting legislation language
Harmonize input from public, stake holders with principled ordinance.
Present ordinance for public consumption and use
The issue of force is one that comes up in conversations about government and government agents. Sometimes this use of force is considered justified, other times it is considered excessive force and is a felony. In the past couple of years we have seen an increase in the number of conversations and narratives surrounding police brutality, and the use of force by those whom we often refer to as “peace officers.”
At the heart of this issue should be the governing principle that executive branch of the city, state, or other government, has the responsibility of law enforcement. These individuals are elected by the will and voice of the people and the police are public servants, or perhaps we should say public service providers (you know, to avoid any slavery connotations). While the legislative branch creates the laws, the executive branch is tasked with…well, executing or enforcing those laws. Mayors, Governors, Presidents, all are considered the executive in charge of enforcing the laws passed by the legislators. But, again, elected officials, and law enforcement, are there FOR THE PEOPLE, not the other way around.
Let me give an example to help illustrate this: I don’t mean to sound dismissive or demeaning towards the law enforcement community, but they are sort of like the customer service agents of the legislators of government. They don’t necessarily make the policies, that is the job of the corporate executives; but they are the ones on the front lines and having to enforce the laws or policies.
While we may be upset at the customer service agents for a company’s return policy for example, yelling at the customer service person isn’t likely to change the policy. However, the way in which a customer service agent enacts or functions within that policy is up to each agent. You can be a kind and understanding customer service agent, or you can be mean, cold, dismissive, and annoyed by the presence of other human beings. So, the issue of police brutality, or excessive force by law enforcement is not an easy one. Are we upset at the customer service agent, or are we really more upset at the corporate policy? Maybe its both, maybe we need to take a step back and make sure we are fully understanding what is happening before we try and get people fired as if that is going to solve the problem.
Hence the need for a use of force registry.