Police officers have come under fire during the protests touched off by the death of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis officer, and it has become clear that a systemic problem requires a systemic solution.
For many years, incidents of police brutality have been shrugged off as a case of a few bad apples on the police force.
There is an old saying that once is an accident, twice is a coincidence and three times or more is a pattern. When it comes to police violence against African Americans, we most definitely have a pattern that has been tolerated for too long.
For local police departments, and those across the country, more and better targeted training for cultural understanding, as well as a fresh review of protocol for the use of techniques to constrain suspects is paramount.
Local police departments should maintain a constant dialogue with leaders of the black community and should be accessible to people living in the neighborhoods they serve who want to talk about complaints, ideas, etc.
Police officers ought not to be seen as outsiders who only show up to arrest someone. They ought to be active members and protectors of their own communities.
A strong peace-making presence in neighborhoods is a key to gaining and keeping the trust of residents.
Police departments must work hand in hand with community leaders and local officials to extensively reevaluate and restructure the police force to better serve the communities.