Police Accountability is Vital to our Democracy –Civil Lawsuits may be One Answer but Voting is the Key

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In American unlike many countries the Police have a proud a tradition they are here “To Serve and To Protect “ whereas in many countries there function is to suppress dissent. Sadly in many inner city communities the police are viewed more as more of an occupying force. There is too much distrust between the police and the inner community which more than any other place in America needs a police which will “Serve and Protect”

There are bad actors in every field and we make a mistake because we want to support the police for risking their lives to protect us to give special protection for police misconduct. No group whether they are doctors lawyers or police officers are above the law. This is especially true because when there is police misconduct the consequences are widespread- people die and communities are shattered.

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The question then becomes what are the best checks on police misconduct. Criminal prosecution have been tried but almost without exception they have failed . Civil lawsuit in contrast have been relatively successful. Money talks and the threat of large judgments more often than not will force police forces to institute long overdue policy changes in the use of force and improved training.

These lawsuits also bring pubic attention to various shortcomings and may engender more political involvement . Sadly voter participation in inner cities is far below what it is in the suburbs. The police report to elected officials and the elected officials report to the voters. The best way to insure that the victims of police misconduct did not die in vain is to vote.

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