Police Reform Advocates Hope For More Progress Next Year In States


Advocates for police reform will return to statehouses next month pushing for increased scrutiny of officers, transparency in police department proceedings and improved crisis training across law enforcement ranks, reports Stateline. Backed by increasingly vocal public criticism after reports of police shootings and allegations of brutality in places like Chicago and Minneapolis, many civil rights advocates will ask lawmakers to revisit measures abandoned earlier this year. Samuel Walker, a policing expert at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, said public dissatisfaction with police practices makes the upcoming legislative sessions ripe for action. “I think we have a huge opportunity, the moment is here,” he said.

The push for more changes in policing in states such as Missouri, where a white police officer shot and killed Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager, in 2014, comes as Americans are losing confidence in police. Advocates hope the shifting public attitude can overcome opposition from police unions and law-and-order legislators who are wary of changes they fear could make policing more dangerous or paint officers as suspects right off the bat in shooting incidents. Missouri lawmakers considered 50 proposals on policing this year, but passed only one new law — to limit the revenue local jurisdictions can raise through traffic tickets. Though national opinion is changing, passing more laws in 2016 will depend on politics — and the level of public outcry — in each state. At least 26 other states passed laws on police practices this year, many of which focus on the deployment of police body cameras. Several states are still crafting policies to govern how police use the cameras and who can access the footage.

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