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Raymond Sheppard: Cleaning up racist policing

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – The first goal of police reform should be to earn community trust based on respect, understanding, due consideration, transparency and the removal of excessive force and racist practices within policing services.

Race-based police violence against African peoples across North America has to stop. Meaningful long-term police reforms must be put in place to serve and protect African peoples across North America and Europe.

Defunding the police makes sense if the funds go into community programs and services for communities of People of Colour. There are massive racial disparities in treatment and respect as it pertains to these communities. Illegal and unnecessary police stops, excessive force, murder, unjustified arrests, gross insensitivity and disrespect seems to be the hallmark of treatment afforded African people and Communities of Colour.

The criminal justice system is racially biased based on the gross incarceration of African people and People of Colour.

Meaningless apologies, made without substance, constructive action and sincerity are nothing but further insults to African people and only adds to the tragedy of racism.

There is an overdue need for police to take responsibility for their actions and inaction that hurts African people and People of Colour.

All police departments must accept these truths and put an action plan in place and act on it. It is simply not enough to say that an officer has been spoken to or he/she has been put on administrative duties with full pay. This does nothing to rectify the situation or to bring meaningful change.

I am not saying that police are all wrong; I am saying police are not all right.

The oppressive tactics of police must end.

Most African people across North America and Europe have little or no confidence in police and their motto of serve and protect. Most approach police with suspicion.

No doubt about it, there is racial disparities and all levels of policing including enforcement, promotions, training and of course the list goes on.

Make no mistake, if police officers of African descent were to treat people of European descent the way that African peoples are treated they would probably be hung in the back of police stations, go missing or they would be nailed to the cross.

Disparities in the use of force does nothing to build trust.

Police unions that defend and support officers when they commit heinous crimes against African peoples and Communities of Colour should be disbanded.

Once again if police officers of African descent committed half of the racial acts that other police officers commit, unions would seek their dismissal ASAP yesterday.

I strongly believe policing throughout North America and Europe has failed African people miserably.

Police violence against African peoples is solely based on systemic racism.

Repairing 150 + years of damage, pain and suffering of police induced trauma is not easy, and what makes it more difficult is the lack of effort put forth to rectify and honestly address and change the situation.

Most people who are found to be involved with criminal activity have their names released to the media and therefore become known by the community. Equally, if a police officer is known to have biases against African people and Persons of Color that could result in unfair treatment, this is a violation of civil and human rights and therefore the community has a right to know before someone is put at risk.

There should be a standard psychological recruitment test with input from African People and Persons of Colour before anyone moves forward to become a police officer. This psychological assessment should address if one has the emotional mental capacity to deal effectively and fairly with African people, Persons of Colour and women.

Police Officers must be taught not to generalize and therefore stereotype African people and others.

Strategies must be appropriate for deterrence, this is where race based data is so vitally important.

I believe all police training in the go forward should include comprehensive cultural competency training to address racial biases and much sensitivity training. Excessive force should be limited to situations where there are imminent threats to an officer’s life or the life of another, realizing sometimes this takes split second determination if there are weapons involved. 

All police officers must be held accountable and disciplinary actions must be transparent. The public has a right to know if an officer has a history of abusing his/her power against African people, People of Colour, women and others.

See also: New impaired driving legislation unduly affects Black Nova Scotians, lawyer says

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