Real change in American policing will come at the local level.
The recent grand jury decision in New York City not to indict anyone in the death of Eric Garner has quite the stir, from protests across the nation to statements by (yes she is running for president) Hillary Clinton.
Like the recent events in Ferguson, Missouri a lot of the coverage of these events focused on what President Obama was going to do about it. Unfortunately this is really the wrong question to ask.
The first reason this is problematic is the fact that in our system of government there really isn’t a whole lot the president can do. Congress can pass a new civil rights law or tie federal funding for law enforcement to specific policies or any number of other remedies to address police violence, but president Obama just can’t do that much on his own.
But the larger problem is much broader than that. The fact is that law enforcement is overwhelmingly the responsibility of local government in our country which means changing how “the police” behave actually involves changing how the roughly 18,000 individual police departments in America actually operate. You could offer to give all these departments body cameras, but that doesn’t mean they’ll all agree to use them. Furthermore, just because things get better in Ferguson doesn’t mean they can’t get worse in other communities a few miles down the road.
Which means the liberal focus on what Obama says during press conferences, something that liberals have been focusing heavily on as of late, doesn’t mean a whole lot when it comes to actually solving this problem. Instead that’s going to take real political action at the local level all across America.
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