Black Lives Matter: An Idea on How to Protect Against Police Abuse

Here is a very simple scenario to explain how the current justice system cannot bring justice to possible police brutality under current conditions:

- Police officer stops a car. Black man driving.

- “Show me your ID”, police officer demands

- Driver reaches out to glove compartment

- Some verbal interaction between the two happens while the driver reaches for the glove compartment

- Police officer shoots and kills

- In court, we find out that there was no gun in the glove compartment, only ID

- In court, lawyer argues that police officer was fearful for his life

- Jury is told by judge of the “beyond reasonable doubt” burden of proof

- Jury acquits. The burden of proof is a high bar

- This scene can play over and over again

How do you prove “beyond reasonable doubt” that the police officer was not really fearful for his life, but rather he was abusing his power, or simply feeding his impulsive anger with no regard to human lives?

And if you are a racist police officer, don’t you know that you can always play the system and “get away with murder”, and therefore you have no restraint on your actions?

I read somewhere that there are about 800K police officers in the country. If 1% of them are “bad apples (racists, corrupt, abusive, etc)”, that means there are 8000 armed people in the country who know that the “system” cannot get them if they act on their bad impulses. Wouldn’t that be enough to keep an entire community in fear?

We learn in business that incentives drive behavior. Shouldn’t the police itself develop an internal incentive system to fix the problem instead of relying on a justice system that is clearly not intended (and not equipped) to deal with it? If not, isn’t it the job of government to introduce a new system to fix this problem? Here is one idea on how this can work: the police and concerned government agencies can introduce a system similar to the Child Welfare System that is intended to protect children from parents abuse. The fact that the overwhelming majority of police officers are good is not a good argument against introducing such system. After all, most parents are good to their children, but have you ever heard of a decent parent complain that the existence of a child welfare system is dangerous and unfair because there are so many good parents out there who do not abuse their children?

According to the Center of Advanced Studies in Child Welfare: “The child welfare system is a group of public and private services that are focused on ensuring that all children live in safe, permanent and stable environments that support their well-being. Child welfare services may interact with entire families, or they may be focused on direct intervention with children.” There are systematic problems in our society that cannot be fixed by the justice system. And we cannot fix these problems by simply providing more training and creating awareness. If that is the case, we would have simply relied on training parents to stop abusing their children, and training abusive husbands to stop beating up their wives.


Originally published at