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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

How Dems Can Help Address Challenge of Black Lives Matter

Here we have yet another example of a Republican trying to leverage Black Lives Matter in service to the GOP Agenda.
This time a writer for RedState and Townhall.com, Leon H. Wolf, argues that abuses by law enforcement are mostly about bloated “big government” budgets, ever the most-favored GOP whipping boy. He lobs in cherry-picked numbers which distract from the fact that it’s a bogus notion from the get-go that somehow, smaller law enforcement budgets will magically eliminate police abuses.
A more grounded program to help eliminate racism and violence in law enforcement championed by Democratic leaders is needed. Certainly Dems should call, loud, clear and repeatedly for more body cameras, video monitoring groups and citizen-staffed police review/oversight boards, which have had considerable success in some localities across the U.S. Democrats should urge adoption of better screening and recruitment of law enforcement, checking racial prejudice and attitudes toward violence to tighten up recruitment and hiring standards.
But there should also be more rigorous training in peaceful conflict-resolution for all law enforcement personnel, including reworking ‘rules of engagement’ with suspects to encourage nonviolent outcomes. There must be increasing participation of people of color and women in law-enforcement policy-making, as well as among police officials and rank and file. Additionally, Democrats should advocate raising the percentage of police who don’t carry lethal weapons and work with community organizations.
Democrats should prioritize these and other reforms. And yes, such reforms might cost a little extra. But not as much as the cost of lawsuits and policing the protests — peaceful and rioting alike — that will come with doing nothing. Then there are the hidden costs of decaying and neglected communities, which require infrastructure upgrades to put people to work at livable wages. Few Republican elected officials are willing to discuss, let alone support major, nationwide infrastructure projects, or even realize that law enforcement IS a critical element of the infrastructure needed to rebuild America.
Black Lives Matter has put the imperative of fundamental criminal justice/law enforcement reform on the national agenda. And if this creative movement can help register hundreds of thousands of new voters in key swing states, needed reforms in law enforcement could become a reality.

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