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On Redefining Policing: Three Perspectives

Photograph by Chad Davis/Flickr

We are nearly three weeks into sustained worldwide protests over the Minneapolis police killing last month of George Floyd. On Friday night, a white police officer in Atlanta named Garrett Rolfe killed a 27-year-old Black man, Rayshard Brooks, as he fled after failing a sobriety test.  Brooks had taken a Taser gun from another officer and pointed it, and possibly fired it at Rolfe. The coroner has declared Brooks’ death a homicide.  Rolfe has been fired, and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation is investigating.

This latest incident has further intensified calls for reform of police use-of-force policies, and growing demands in cities across the country to “defund the police.”  The Baltimore City Council met virtually on Friday night to discuss cuts to the Baltimore Police Department budget. The U.S. Senate and the House are considering federal legislation, and leaders in Annapolis have vowed that police reform will be a high priority in the next General Assembly.

Some call for reform within traditional law enforcement structures; others advocate for reallocating funds from police to social services...

So far this year in Baltimore, 146 people have been victims of homicide.  If police departments are de-funded or abolished altogether, can entities other than police adequately safeguard communities wracked by almost daily violence? 

Later in this hour Tom talks with Alex Vitale, an associate professor of sociology at Brooklyn College and the director of the Policing and Social Justice Project. Dr. Vitale is also the author of The End of Policing and a proponent of new paradigms for public safety and security.  Then, Tom speaks with historian Dr. Terry Anne Scott, an associate professor and specialist in African American history at Hood College

Credit DeRay Mckesson; Alex Vitale;Terry Scott
DeRay Mckesson, Campaign Zero; Dr. Alex Vitale, dir.,The Policing and Social Justice Project; historian Dr. Terry Anne Scott

But Tom begins today with DeRay Mckesson, who has concentrated his activism on reducing police violence for years.  He’s a co-founder of Campaign Zero, a national movement for police reform that recently launched what it calls the 8 Can’t Wait Project, a prescription for police departments designed to curb the use of force against civilians.  DeRay Mckesson joins us on the line from New York City.

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Host, Midday (M-F 12:00-1:00)
Rob is a contributing producer for Midday.