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Contact Mayor Koch and ask that he declare racism a public health crisis. Boston's mayor just recently did this. This acknowledges that structural and interpersonal racism is worthy of assessment, treatment, and financial investment in order to eradicate its negative health impacts.
Contact our city officials and ask that a community board - independent of the police - be developed. This board will need subpoena power to investigate allegations of law enforcement wrongdoing. Reliance on police departments to do their own investigations is often a barrier to addressing misconduct.
Effective community safety must be built on trust. Transparency and accountability through publicaly available data is a way to establish this trust. We want the Quincy Police to collect and analyze field and traffic stop data and complaint data, including information about the race of the people stopped and filing complaints. This information should then be accessible online to our community. Ask our city representatives to make policing transparent in Quincy.
On 7/14/2020 the Massachusetts Senate passed a police reform bill to limit the “qualified immunity” that now shields officers from civil prosecution, puts checks on the use of chokeholds and tear gas, and requires law enforcement officers to be licensed. This is now before the MA House.
We cannot fix what we don't acknowledge is broken. This bill is sponsored by Rep. Holmes D - Boston an would establish a commission to study how the systemic presence of institutional racism has created a culture of structural racial inequality which has exacerbated disproportionate minority contact with the criminal justice system in Massachusetts. Contact your state representatives and ask them to sponsor this legislation.
Most policy related to policing happens at the local and state level, but our federal level representatives still have a role to play to ensure an accountable justice system. We need to stay engaged at all levels to influence change.
Some things to watch for in the coming weeks and months include policy around:
Qualified immunity for law enforcement
This is the legal doctrine that shields police officers and other government officials from legal actions by victims and families, even if their civil rights were violated. It was introduced by the Supreme Court in 1967. The Ending Qualified Immunity Act is act of Congree (H.R.7085) proposed by the House to legislatively revoke this doctrine. There is significant opposition to it in the Senate.
Increased use of consent decrees
Consent decrees provide federal oversight of police departments through a legally-binding agreement between the Justice Department and a police department mandating reforms that are enforced by a federal judge. Under Donald Trump, the Justice Department abandoned the use of this tool to hold local police departments accountable.