Between the NYPD killing of Eric Garner caught on camera last month and the ongoing protests over Mike Brown’s death in Ferguson, Missouri, police brutality is back in the national media spotlight. While much of the discussion has revolved around how to hold police accountable for misconduct, such initiatives offer cold comfort to the victims of police violence and their families. Instead, activists must take a more proactive approach to reducing police brutality.
Time after time, the ability to record police-civilian interactions – usually seen as a victory for police accountability – has done less to deter police violence than to document it.
Sometimes this evidence results in police being held responsible for misconduct. Far more often, it leads to procedural slaps on the wrist, reduced charges, and lenient sentences….
Whatever the courts decide to do with such evidence, it can’t bring back the dead.
The nightly news hails as heroes those who intervene to stop crimes: ordinary citizens who foil a mugging or interrupt an assault. But what are people supposed to do when the perpetrators are police officers?
It is long past time to move from an after-the-fact accountability paradigm to initiatives focused on violence prevention and intervention.
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