Policing and Crime Prevention
While structural changes in the U.S. economy during the past 30 – 40 years of the ‘War on Drugs’ hit the least qualified in segregated neighborhoods the hardest, mass incarceration became the method of choice to get people off the street and reduce the official unemployment rate by incarcerating increasing numbers of nonviolent offenders for longer and longer periods of time. This sets in motion a vicious circle that keeps particularly black and brown young men entrapped for life. Nonviolent offenders should be given alternative sentences, which provide avenues to high school diplomas, job training and/or college. Building strong communities is the best crime prevention.
The Green Party advocates for the discontinuation of current crime ‘prevention’ methods such as hotspot policing and drone surveillance. We should deemphasize current drug laws, and decriminalize marijuana and all illicit drugs, in order to discourage sale by eliminating the profit margin.
Court systems, designed to handle drug and mental health related charges need to receive greater funding.
Alternative sentencing should be implemented more frequently. There must be increased funding for skills training, and rehabilitation. In addition, easily accessible recreational programs for adolescents and teens, in place throughout the city is strongly indicated to decrease crime, and should, therefor receive prioritized and sufficient funding. (GP Youth and Families Platform).
Ending conditions which create crime is the fundamental solution, and should be our overall goal. St. Louis should work in cooperation with the federal government, for full employment, including a livable wage, and adequate housing for all of its residents. Government needs to look inward, as well. Establishing adequate oversight to find, and root out graft and abuse of power, as well as discrimination, racial profiling and covert racism, should be a priority. Penalties for corporate criminals should be considerably harsher; to create disincentive toward those kinds of crimes.
The recent events in Ferguson and around the country have once more revealed that policing in the U.S. is totally out of balance. Neither citizens, or officers who want to protect and serve the community, are served by a police department rocked by scandal. In the fourteen years of his tenure , Mayor Slay has failed to provide for even minimal police accountability. In 2006, he vetoed the bill for a Civilian Review Board with subpoena power, which had passed in the Board of Aldermen. Finally, in 2012, with massive funding through millionaire Rex Sinquefield, Slay launched a campaign which mislead voters, and resulted in the passing of Proposition A, a pseudo review board without civic participation.
Slay’s tenure as Mayor has been unresponsive to research and statistics that reveal flagrant racism, misconduct, and corruption, involving multiple city departments. His plan for Youth Crime Prevention, proposed in 2012, lacked substance, and failed to address the causal elements of youth violence. Mayor Slay sites the “Ferguson Effect” for the increase in crime in 2014. He has proposed a plan to hire 160 new police officers, but opposes a Civilian Review Board. He is a strong proponent of an ever increasing “toughness on crime” without any proof that currently applied policing
practices are effective.
In 2013, Police Chief Dotson applied for approval from the Federal Aviation Administration, and collected the funding for the purchasing of a drone; which is estimated to cost around $30,000 - $60,000. The increased use of ‘HotSpot’ policing, and the proposal to incorporate the use of drones, will waste more tax payer dollars on practices that will further target and disenfranchise the poor and at risk neighborhoods, and will likely prove ineffective. Building a police department that deserves the trust of the people it serves would be a more effective path.
The Green Party requests that the mayor must install an effective Civilian Oversight Board as part of a new climate of accountability. As part of this reform, the Mayor should sign a Memorandum of Understanding with police rank and file, guaranteeing collective bargaining rights with binding arbitration.
The Missouri annual study of racial profiling has shown no improvement year after year. Our police force needs to reflect the racial makeup of the communities they serve. Officers should undergo racial bias testing prior to entering into service, and should live in the communities they are policing. We must ensure that we are strengthening the trust between officers and the communities they police. This can be accomplished through de-escalation training for officers and education of the public on basic laws and rights, and police department policy and procedure.
Given the nature of their job, police officers should be equipped with a point-of-view body camera. In addition, police should maintain the traditional stance in favor of non-enforcement of federal immigration law by municipal authorities. When considering the issue of gang violence in our city, we must understand the causes of this sort of crime, and address the underlying issues. Cameras that invade the privacy of citizens are neither reasonable nor an effective solution to this problem.
The Green Party Vision:
- St. Louis needs an effective Civilian Review Board which has subpoena power.
- Skills training and recreational programs for youth should be created and existing programs expanded.
- Implement measures to end racial profiling and the harassing of immigrants and other minorities.
- Implement programming to improve community relations with local law enforcement. This should include deescalation training for officers, and information provided to the public regarding policing policies and procedures.
- Nonviolent offenders should be given alternative sentencing.
- Instead of camera supervision that further invade people’s privacy, new and effective approaches need to be developed to cope with gang violence, and its causes.
- Police officers should be equipped with point-of-view body cameras, and officers who violate the policies regarding use of the camera should be suspended.
- Influence and support legislation to decriminalize all illicit drugs.
- Culturally sensitive drug rehabilitation, treatment for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and mental health treatment should be provided upon request (or) demand through established community based centers.
- Education is the most reliable crime prevention investment any governing body can make. It should be the idiom by which all crime prevention policy is created.