UPDATE: On twitter, Ta-Nehisi Coates seems to echo the sentiments in my piece:
My debut in the Rutgers Democrats Magazine is finally online. In this issue I evaluate Campaign Zero’s policy perceptions and argue that:
“Most of the policy recommendations fall under categories that ultimately try to change police behavior. The problem with that approach is that it’s exceedingly difficult. Especially at a national level, a few policy changes can’t just turn police officers into saints. Perhaps there are some improvements at the margin, but they don’t come close to real reform, and the goal of living “in a world where police don’t kill people.” As Ta-Nehisi Coates argues, “A reform that begins with the officer on the beat is no reform at all.”
For real reform, we need more systematic change. Instead of changing police behavior, we can change the environment in which they police. Coates emphasizes using resources besides police to solve “general social ills.” But there is something more immediate to the issue of police violence: guns.”
Read the rest here.
Looking back on this, I think I should of framed this argument differently. I argued that Campaign Zero’s policy percritons would be generally ineffective unless it tried to take away peoples guns. But I do understand that’s ridiculously unrealistic policy goal. So I should of argued that America’s basically fucked because of our ridiculous gun culture and we won’t be able to do much to substantially curtail gun violence.
That being said, I think we can do something to reduce the bias in police violence on the margin. But that’s a complicated issue that I’ll address in a follow up post.