In the national uproar since this past Memorial Day, there’s been much talk about “defunding” or even abolishing the police. First, I have to admit that I have no expertise in this subject at all. I definitely don’t agree with the idea of abolishing the police. There are certainly people who commit dangerous criminal acts, such as robbery, murder, etc., and every community needs a police force, even if it goes under a different name, to combat and control them. I’m still trying to “get my head around” the idea of defunding the police. From what I’ve heard and read, I think what’s being talked about is to shift some police funding to other areas, and to shift responsibility for handling problems like traffic violations, domestic disputes, and a number of non-violent and non-dangerous offenses to non-police people who are better suited and trained for those kinds of duties. I think that’s a very good aim.
I completely support national rules and standards for policing, including the wearing of body cameras at all times on duty, banning chokeholds, and a national registry of police who are dismissed for disobeying the rules and standards.
I have one idea that might be incorporated in whatever comes out of these hard times. I’ve read that all police, during their initial training as cadets, are instructed about techniques in handling difficult people, diffusing difficult situations, and handling those who are mentally ill and pose a threat to themselves and others, but that, once the training period is over, there’s little or no follow-up “refresher” instruction on these subjects. As a physician, I was required to get continuing medical education in order to renew my medical license very couple of years, and most, if not all, specialty societies (including the American Academy of Pediatrics) now require retesting periodically in order for a doctor to maintain certification by the society. I think it would be reasonable to have a similar arrangement for police officers, where they would be required to have some sort of licensure, and to prove some kind of regular continuing education to maintain it and continue in their work. The times are changing, and I think this would be right for the time we’re in now.