What are your Demands for Change within the Police Department?

I woke up this morning. Reached for my phone and came across no news. No text, no calls, no personal notices.. phew. No news is good news. I turned towards my Facebook for a little entertainment.. A.K.A. a little I’m not ready to get out of bed distraction.

The words Ferguson is splashed all over the page. Words coming out in favor for both sides. I laid back as a rush of conflicting thoughts passed through my brain.

I remember living in Uganda where there are no police per say. There are military men with large guns. Very large guns. Where we worked there were not even those. I remember having meetings where in the middle a large commotion would suddenly emerge down the road. What is happening I would ask Lillian our translator. She would say, “Oh they are taking care of that man. He did something bad.” “Isn’t someone going to call the police,” I would reply. “Auntie the police do not come out here.” Later talking to my sister and realizing they beat some man pretty badly, nearly pulling him apart, this is how conflict was resolved. Someone did something bad and the community had to resolve it because who else would? I saw men nearly being pulled apart a hand full of times in Uganda.

When it came a little closer to home it shook me deeply. My sister was mugged by two men one late night while walking back from a party. She was hit in the head with a crow bar. I’m happy to say she has the thickest head in the world, is the only known person in Uganda to have survived an attack like that and that the series of events that took place after her attack shaped me and my cat like reflexes greatly.

Upon returning back to Uganda I remember thinking how wonderful it was  to be in a land where I can call 911 and can predict the series of events that will proceed. I’ve never particularly liked cops. I grew up with many who were definitely arrogant, egomaniacal, and douche. But none the less I grew up knowing how to properly ignore these types, cops or no cops, and steer clear of those who demand respect but do not give it.

I have little interaction with police here in America. I’ve never been pulled over and I’ve never had to call the police. There have been instances where it was an option but came to the conclusion it was more negatives than positives that would come from the experience.

Looking at the situation today in Ferguson and else where I look at both sides like wild, panicky animals. I believe a person is smart, a group is stupid. I believe a cop, most cops are good. I believe the police department is arching towards defensive, nervous, confused but to proud to think about what internal changes need to be made. When an animal is attacked it becomes defensive and than aggressive. So the people will continue to protest. I believe protesting is pointless unless there are clear demands. Here are mine:

1. Body Cameras on all police officers

2. Rookie cops to be paired with more senior officers in areas of less crime before being placed in high crime areas

3. None violent communication classes. This must be done each month for multiple days

4. Therapy sessions between community and the police force they serve

As you can see I have not listed punishment of officers that kill civilians. Its too late at this point. We have failed. A life has been taken and taking another one will not make things right.

So in closing I ask you these questions What are your demands? How, specifically, do you want things to change? What do you want to see happen? What is your ideal out come? As you march in the streets, talk with your neighbors, and discuss with your kids become problem solvers. Think about the utopia you want to live in. Put those words out into the universe because without ideas, solutions, and big dreamers no change will come about.


A. Bernadette


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