Getting Rid of “Bad Apples”: How to Eliminate Racism from Police Departments
From more than 28 years of criminal law experience, I believe that police killing Black Americans is rarely the result of racism, however, sometimes it is and that must stop immediately! The existence of racial biases is evident in the police killing of George Floyd which was seen around the world and brought attention to the reality that many police officers are racist. To combat this problem, I propose the following three-stage solution to police officer reform.
Combatting racial biases must begin well before a recruit becomes an officer. This pre-employment stage requires that admissions officers increase the scrutiny with which they admit recruits to the police academy. Before an officer is admitted into the police academy, a comprehensive pre-employment screening should be conducted. This screening should involve an in-depth psychological evaluation, a criminal and civil background check, a polygraph (lie detector) exam, and a very extensive and credible reference check. Each of these procedures should be aimed at uncovering any existence of racism in the applicant’s history. Establishing and maintaining a high standard amongst officers must begin even before they are admitted to the academy.
Once a recruit is admitted to the academy, a high level of scrutiny should be maintained and instructors, administration, and recruits should be trained to identify and report signs of racism or racial biases. Special training should be designed for the sole purpose of uncovering whether a cadet is racially biased and if the training reveals that a recruit is racist then they must be terminated from the academy. Addressing this issue must be a critical component of a recruit’s time in the academy to weed out biased recruits and to change the current culture and mindset that many officers have to cover-up the racist behavior of their fellow officers.
Once a cadet graduates the academy they should be required to attend anti-racial bias seminars atleast twice a year. A policy of zero-tolerance for racism should exist in every law enforcement agency and any officer who fails to meet their yearly training standards should be terminated.
Police departments and their Internal Affairs departments should be mandated to conduct agency-wide semi-annual investigations to determine if their officers are exhibiting any form of racist behavior. This evaluation should include making sure the agency is implementing a one-strike-you’re-out policy for firing any officer who acts in a racist way. Additionally, the semi-annual investigation should evaluate whether the agency is promoting a culture where officers and civilians know it is safe and confidential to report racist actions of other officers; officers should be encouraged, not penalized, for reporting racist conduct.
We have seen the pain that Black Americans endure when vicious acts of racism infiltrate the police system, which is meant to serve and protect. We encourage you to contact your local police department and discuss these ideas and other solutions for eliminating these intolerable acts.
Written by: Guy Fronstin