Witnessing the Death of Policing by Consent - Part 3 of 3


Photo byNathan Dumlao on Unsplash


It’s Time to Reboot and Reinvent the Modern Police Organisation

In part 2, I suggested three options moving forward following the murder of George Floyd, the protests and the widespread acknowledgement by police and government leaders of the need for change. The calls of the protests are being heard and change is coming, but is the wholesale defunding or disbanding of the police the right course of action?

Option three was,

  • We seize the opportunity and open the door to better relationships between the police and public. We need to completely redesign the police service from the ground up to better meet the needs of the community, have greater accountability, better transparency and more effective oversight. What we have clearly doesn’t work.

There are many who don’t like the police very much right now…and obviously with good reason. But in my opinion, that is not rationale to disband or defund police and allow what will either be anarchy and chaos or something like military law to exist.

Option three is where we need to be. Communities need to take this opportunity and sit down with police agencies, lawmakers and government to devise new strategies for policing in their communities. The “new” agreements need to focus on openness, transparency, collaboration, fairness, justice and equity. They need to focus on training, developing effective agency wide community strategy, and on more effective discipline and oversight. New hiring practices need to be developed to weed out “bad-apples” long before they get access to the public. Photo by LOGAN WEAVER on Unsplash

Police actions need to centre around rebuilding all communities (especially those who have felt the most oppressed and over-policed), supporting those with mental illness and those at the greatest risk of harm.

Going back to the Principles, number two says,

  • To recognise always that the power of the police to fulfil their functions and duties is dependent on public approval of their existence, actions and behaviour and on their ability to secure and maintain public respect. (Home Office, 2012)

It is only through the active involvement of the community that this principle can be met.

All stakeholders need to be invited to the table to participate, not just government appointees and the privileged few, but also those who are victims, former perpetrators and the primary users of the police services.

Communication with the community needs to be paramount and two-way. Active listening and most importantly – “active action” need to become the new normal. All stakeholders need to have a say in every single aspect of policing services. This is not a re-hashing of the classic “police confidence” surveys that so many departments take part in. Many studies have shown the vast majority of those studies aren’t repeatable, are heavily biased and most don’t ever see the light of day. Stakeholders need to be able to tell police agencies what is important to them, why it’s important and it needs to be measured and the results held out for all to see.

If police agencies fail at something, they owe it to their communities to admit their failure and make it right. They can’t hide behind the badge any longer. They can’t continue protect the Chauvin’s and those that failed to hold him accountable long before George Floyd. They can’t allow police to provide oversight for police.

If policing by consent is to be saved, it needs to be changed, dramatically, for the better.


For the rest of this series click on these hyperlinks, Part 1 and Part 2


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Works Cited in this Series

Associated Press, 2020. CTV News. [Online] Available at: https://www.ctvnews.ca/world/minneapolis-council-majority-backs-disbanding-police-force-1.4973684 [Accessed 07 06 2020].

Fuller, G., 2020. The Conversation. [Online] Available at: https://theconversation.com/coronavirus-extra-police-powers-risk-undermining-public-trust-135644 [Accessed 03 06 2020].

Home Office, 2012. Gov.UK. [Online] Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/policing-by-consent/definition-of-policing-by-consent [Accessed 03 06 2020].

Merriam-Webster, 2020. Merriam-Webster Dictionary. [Online] Available at: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/consent [Accessed 5 June 2020].

Mukherejee, A., 2020. The Globe and Mail. [Online] Available at: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/article-are-we-ready-to-talk-about-defunding-the-police/ [Accessed 05 06 2020].

Stockman, F. & Eligon, J., 2020. The New York Times. [Online] Available at: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/05/us/defund-police-floyd-protests.html [Accessed 05 06 2020].

Streeter, S., 2019. Lethal Force in Black and White: Assessing Racial Disparities in the Circumstances of Police Killings. The Journal of Politics, 81(3).

Trump, D. J., 2020. Twitter. [Online] Available at: https://twitter.com/MicahGrimes/status/1266268711125520386/photo/2 [Accessed 05 June 2020].

West's Encyclopedia of American Law, Edition 2, 2008. The Legal Dictionary. [Online] Available at: https://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/consent [Accessed 06 June 2020].

WIllis, J., 2020. The Appeal. [Online] Available at: https://theappeal.org/minneapolis-city-council-members-announce-intent-to-disband-the-police-department-invest-in-proven-community-led-public-safety/ [Accessed 07 06 2020].

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