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Halfway reforms may be enough to save police

A Chattanooga police officer helps change a car tire. “By the time my husband arrived,“ the woman motorist said, “Officer Doub had the car jacked up and almost had the tire off the vehicle. He also stayed to help my husband finish up the job. *** He truly went above and beyond as a public servant, and I am incredibly grateful to know we have officers like him serving our city.”(Photo Chattanooga police department on FB)

As the national and regional press absorbs more stories of police killings (euphemized as “officer-involved shootings”), the question naturally comes about reform measures to reduce the death toll and the culture of fear police create among poor districts in cities across the U.S..

By David Tulis / NoogaRadio 92.7

Everything short of a closure of a department — the firing of police officers, the demission of the chief, the removal of staff people and lieutenants from payroll, the sale of police compounds and cars — is a partial or half measure.

Some towns whose citizens were fed up shut down cops unceremoniously. Waldo, Fla.; Lemon Township, Ohio; and Laflin, Pa., are three. The oppression must intensify, and anger must grow, before there comes a general call in places such as Chattanooga for abolition.

Until Chattanoogans are fed up to that degree, Iet’s consider reform that effectively save the police institution while reducing its violence and lawlessness.

Major outlines of reform are described by Chuck Wexler in 30 Guiding Principles for Use of Force, 2016, 136 pp. He argues for three principles of reform: The use in the field of space, cover and time. These assets will reduce police killings and violent confrontations and allow for de-escalation and a respect for life. Several of my points below arise from a careful reading of this study.

Half-measures — but they’re good

Turn training on his head. Whereas 153 hours on average go to violence (guns, defensive tactics, use of force and force training, club, stun gun, poison spray) 16 hours go to de-escalation and crisis intervention. Virtually no time is given to review the needs of mentally deranged or disturbed people or people stoked out on narcotics. These comprise about a third of the people against whom 911 calls are made. An example of misguided policing would be the slaying of Sierra McCauley in Knoxville, who was shot dead by officer Charles Gadd. He was heavily armed and armored but felt that a naked woman with a knife was a threat to his life in a disorderly conduct call upon one who reportedly was trying to commit suicide. An East Ridge police officer Oct. 21 used a taser to the groin and a chokehold to arrest a narcotized man, Christopher Penn. Alternative methods should be part of the training to avoid such brutal usages.

➤  Disarmament. In the first six months of the year, police and deputies killed 720 people, mostly with firearms. Police have moral authority and, ostensibly, represent the law when they appear on the scene of an accident, crime or at a scene of inquiry. The sole purpose of a handgun is to kill or main. Without a firearm, police would have to resort to other means to save their own lives if threatened, or save the lives of others. Policing is only the 14th most dangerous occupation. Truck driving, roofing and fishing are more dangerous, with logging the most. Cops kill too many people. It’s time they stop.

Changing looks of cops

➤  Reduce use of blue lights; try red ones. Light racks should include red lights for noncriminal matters. Blue should be for Title 39 crimes (rape, murder, prostitution, kidnapping). Red lights should be for transportation stops of commercial vehicles, accidents, wellness check visits, public intoxication, traffic accidents and other matters since violence or serious crime are not involved.

Uniforms outs, suits in. Military style uniforms are part of the ethos and aura of police, a group set apart, a group above the populace, a military army of occupation particularly in the world of municipal corporation police departments. Sheriff’s departments have an organic and even biblical origin as they are protectors of courts. Uniforms should be sharply reduced in their military traditional appearance. Garb could be sporty, bright, with a big service logo front and back.

Get your TAN now: Transportation Administrative Notice creates cause of action vs. cops, traffic court defense

Police become more like medical techs, less like thugs. They are, after all, techs on matter of law and ordinance. They have clear authority on the latter category of law. Cops are on the scene to secure, advise, assist and care for, not constantly on the prowl for crimes that they create or fabricate.

Cops learn limits of law, power of radio

More study of law, limits upon state actors. Cops take regularly law refresher courses about the people, their rights and how to serve the public while putting no innocent person in danger. He studies the constitution, dangers of such things as rackets, racketeering influenced organization, bills of attainders, monopolies and anything that prevents property from being protected. Every officer should read State v. Garcia and State v. Raspberry and know that when he pulls somebody over along the highway, that he is arresting that person. CPD officers must honor the Miranda policy rather than routinely ignoring it. Officers should read laws such as Title 55 to brush up on proper commercial enforcement, and avoid tax enforcement or privilege management against people not involved in for-hire use of the road. See Transportation Administrative Notice Tennessee.

Use of radios to avoid high-speed chases. Because radios and wireless phones exist, there is no reason for any policeman to chase anybody, especially if the person being chased is not acting irrationally or if that person has not done anything that is likely to cause injury to another. If a person is to be apprehended and he is in a car, the department sends out information about the tag, the color and type of car and wait until that person is found. No high-speed chases that injure innocent people on the road and give cops an adrenalin rush that ends in a police killing. Radio and phone signals outrun automobiles and people on foot. The reform enhances public safety.

No more ‘bad apples’

Require every recruit to show evidence within 15 days of employment that he has purchased a F$5 million dollar insurance policy to cover himself if he kills somebody. That expense will belong to the officer alone.

Limits on ex-military, fired cops from elsewhere. Chattanooga and other. Southeast Tennessee cities should avoid hiring former soldiers because they are tempted under current modes of operation to act as if they are at war. They should be strict in hiring any experienced cop with a bad record, and research work history thoroughly. No bad apples.

Oversight board. Such a board requires the citizenry to accept the presupposition of policing, and keeps from view any alternative, whether that be the sheriff’s department or a dissolution of the police-state function, a washing away of its human management and social control. If police are here to stay, it’s time for an oversight board, funded perhaps by taxation but the board of which is made up of citizens. The huge effort to create an oversight board requires a long-term commitment to police and its larger premise, executive vs. representative government.

Support this blog and my 1 – 3 p.m. weekday show on 92.7 NoogaRadio by going to GoFundMe and making a free gift. I am grateful for your interest in my ministry and your support of my effort to encourage godly reform and constitution-fearing government in Chattanooga, Hamilton County and places beyond.


Samuel Stebbins et al, “Workplace fatalities: 25 most dangerous jobs in America,” USA Today, Jan. 9, 2018.

Support this blog and my 2 – 4 p.m. weekday show on NoogaRadio by going to GoFundMe and making a free gift. I am grateful for your interest in my ministry and your support of my effort to encourage godly reform and constitution-fearing government in Chattanooga, Hamilton County and places beyond.

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