This brave grass-roots experiment deserves to be tried. How might it turn out?
- At worst: A reshuffling of departments, familiar faces, and responsibilities, while an insular culture remains a potent adversary to real change.
- The best: A new police culture in which members of law enforcement act as members of the community they police. This new culture is contained by society, rather than insular to it.
Because it is a local initiative, the effort will have responsiveness that prevents total breakdown.
Editorials have focused on reform of the shield of qualified immunity. Punishing the guilty cop is only one leg of the stool. Though it is an important part of Rousseau’s Social Contract, public attention tends to focus on punishing the guilty, which has force only after the fact. Prevention requires two legs of structural change:
- Police culture responsible to the community, instead of to itself.
- Exclusion of the workplace psychopath from the badge and the gun.
Consider: Derek Chauvin is probably a psychopath, or something like it. With his exclusion, the death of George Floyd would in all probability not have occurred. This has been absent from recent opinion. This is a blind spot, which the press would do well to correct. Of course, excluding the psychopath is harder than passing legislation. So let’s figure out how to do it.
The psychopathic cop is the subject of U.S. protesters call to Defund the Police. Even with weakening of qualified immunity, the psychopath remains a coiled spring, waiting for his chance.
Will the brave experiment actually be tried, or will the supermajority members of the city council temporize or bungle? Will soaring crime revoke their mandate?
This is going to be interesting.