Police reforms are needed, but they’re not cheap.
There’s a serious conversation that taxpayers must have with their government and it needs to happen sooner than later.
The conversation, which should be convened by elected officials and the Police Commissioner, must aim to manage the taxpayer’s expectations with regards to the wide-ranging reforms needed to restore their trust and confidence in policing.
Most citizens don’t think twice about the cost of police reforms, they just want what they want, which seems to be, at a minimum, more training, diversity in officer recruitment, and body cameras.
But the desires—and in some cases, demands—comes with a pretty hefty price tag. And when you consider that most city officials are scrounging their office floors and city pavements for school funding, the immediate future of implementing large-scale police reforms looks bleak.
As seen in Baltimore, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake initially vetoed a body camera bill in part due to cost, though now she pledges to fund a body camera program even if the federal funding doesn’t come through.
And last year in Philadelphia, after Mr. Brandon Tate-Brown, 26, was shot in the back of the head by a Philadelphia police officer, Mr. Tate-Brown’s mother, Ms. Tanya Brown-Dickerso—who’ll be an interviewer at the April 29th Philadelphia Mayoral Forum on police and criminal justice reform in University City—learned that no police cruiser in Philadelphia is outfitted with dashboard cameras.
A lot of taxpayers, when this unfortunate truth came to light, were stunned, some outraged. Mrs. Brown-Dickerson called for the Philadelphia Police Department to adopt dashboard cameras on all its vehicles, but cash is limited, and at the moment, the department is attempting to figure how to pay for its full body camera roll-out.
All of the current Philadelphia Mayoral candidates have publicly stated their endorsement of the 91 recommendations provided by the Department of Justice which aim to improve the Philadelphia Police Department. None of them, however, have articulated a plan for how to obtain the dollars needed to advance the implementation.
Body cameras alone for 6,500 Philadelphia police officers will cost roughly $750,000-$800,000, but that doesn’t include the servers or the cloud storage; and since the cloud space for data isn’t infinite, the conversation of how long to keep the footage in play will need to happen, too. Body cameras aren’t a one-time investment, and neither is training, it’s quite the opposite.
Training can mean everything from classes on how NOT to shoot for center mass—something that Mrs. Brown-Dickerson has called for—and courses on sign language, a recommendation from Ms. Rue Landau, Executive Director, Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations, and one of the 24 Philadelphians who’ve been appointed by the mayor of Philadelphia to the newly formed Community Oversight Board.
Sign language courses may seem like a waste of time and money on paper, but deaf people do exist in our society, and there is a precedent of officers using force on them because they think they’re ignoring them. Also, sometimes, as mentioned in my conversation with Ms. Landau, officers arrest deaf people and put their hands behind their backs, making them unable to communicate.
Police reforms are important, but they’re not cheap, either. So it’s time for cities to have this relevant and timely talk with its people, so that together, communities can come up with solutions to school funding and police reforms, two of the most pressing issues of our day.
Thanks for reading. Until next time, I’m Flood the Drummer® & I’m Drumming for JUSTICE!™