Election 2016 Round Table Discussion: Chaos and disruptions throughout America have reached fever pitch and continue to raise concerns as to what can be done to maintain the law and appropriately deal with law breakers at all levels. What kind of policies should be implemented under a Clinton or Trump administration to solve the challenges in law enforcement?

Gastonia, NC Correspondent-We have got to make a bold and decisive statement of faith in law enforcement at the national level.  Our president must support the police rather than calling their integrity into question at every turn. Obama’s conduct in this matter sickens me.  There is always massive media coverage when a police shooting occurs, but the presses fall silent when the shooting turns out to have been completely justified.  The public picture that the police are to be hated, feared and spat upon is abhorrent and a complete work of fiction.

While I’m on the subject of law and order, the prison system needs to be overhauled and the use of the death penalty needs to be facilitated.  The attitude that we need to let criminals loose because the prisons are overcrowded is ridiculous.  Especially for violent felons, prison SHOULD be an unpleasant and uncomfortable experience.  When a killer is sentenced to death, spurious efforts to prevent the drugs used to end his or her life from being imported should be suppressed, or alternate methods should be employed.

If the thugs on the street know that a truly unpleasant fate awaits them upon conviction, they’ll be less likely to commit the offenses that get them there.

 

Prescott Valley, AZ Correspondent-The challenges in law enforcement must be met at the state and local level with foundational principles formulated at those levels. The challenges can be met through a number of procedures that should include repeals of executive orders that impede police departments from receiving the kinds of equipment they need to operate and  enforce the law, protect citizens and protect law enforcement.  Federal grants with less rigid requirements should also be made available to police departments to enable them to fulfill various mandates at the local and federal level without loss of funding.

Police departments must be aware of what happens between encounters with police officers and the public to not only determine whether there are detrimental interactions occurring, and at what rate they are happening  but whether actual civil rights violations and racial profiling are taking place. Record keeping needs to be streamlined to determine incident rates as does the collection of data concerning police shootings and the frequency of suspects injured or killed by law enforcement.

Data collection should be left to local police department administrators and other officials so any information obtained remains at the local level and is not over or under inflated concerning occurrences through federal record keeping agencies.   Accuracy in reporting and distribution of the information must be made public in such a way that those questioning  police actions are fully aware of exactly what has occurred so little thought  is left to chance or suspicion, which could  inspire and incite rioting or other violence from local or outside agitators.

Police and community awareness and direct interaction with community members must also be part of meeting the challenges of law enforcement in today’s volatile and edgy climate. Citizens need to know that police protection of their neighborhoods and businesses is out of duty and concern for their well being and community cohesiveness, not to provoke suspicion or hate. Trust must be established on both sides. If incidents occur that affect a community, citizens need to not only input what they know about local crimes and suspicious activity, but they also need to be  made aware of the facts before they jump to conclusions and retaliate with rioting, looting and other forms of supposed payback. Community meetings of substance with police and citizen input is one way to instill trust within a community and calm fears.

With police officers more at risk than ever, harsher penalties need to be pushed for crimes committed against police officers. Protections and safeguards  must  be implemented for those that suffer serious injury or death. Would-be perpetrators must be held accountable for crimes committed against police officers, and the punishments and jail time involved need to be swift and stiff.  In addition, those who have been injured while committing felonies or other crimes should be held to limits in terms of any kind of compensation in relation to what they have done.  Crime should not pay in the form of millions of dollars in damages for crimes committed against individuals or the public.

Local police and county sheriff departments must be allowed to do their jobs without interference from local citizens and agitators, but the innocent need to be protected at the same time and shielded from the influences that seem to predominate in almost any police interaction or altercation today. With accurate crime reporting, an infusion of community awareness, citizen ownership of the safety and well being of their communities and a reporting of criminal and suspicious activity within communities, a happy medium can be struck.  What is in the best interest of the community and its law-abiding citizens should always be the priority of any police action.

 

Owatonna, MN Correspondent-Many people feel that the U.S. is suffering through a horrific spate of violence ranging from gang shootings, terrorist attacks on home soil, and mass shootings in public places.  However, we must put this perceived chaos into historical perspective before taking radical steps to solve problems that may not be solvable by traditional means if they are solvable at all.

The 1960s and early 1970s were marked by hugely destructive riots in the major cities such as Los Angeles, Detroit, and Chicago. Much of this was due to the nascent civil rights movement inspiring minorities to riot in protest of the oppression they’d suffer to that point. Political upheaval brought on by the Viet Nam War, Watergate, and the Cold War also fueled public discontent. The knee-jerk reaction was to get tough on crime, especially drug trafficking. This resulted in a rapid increase in incarceration rates and the number of prisons. This increase pushed the U.S. into world leadership in the percentage of the population that were convicted felons.

Yet here we are two generations later, wringing hands over a similar wave of violence and unrest. Once again, politicians vow to get tough on crime, close borders to illegal immigrants whom they like to blame for much of the current violence and terrorism, and otherwise enact laws designed to catch the bad guys such as increased electronic surveillance and data mining of personal information.

Instead of addressing symptoms such as murder, riots, terrorism, etc., a saner approach is to address the root problem, economic disadvantage. Step one, and it’s a major one, is to immediately legalize all recreational drugs currently classified as illegal, starting with marijuana, but including heroin, cocaine, LSD, and methamphetamines. Prohibition has never worked to regulate personal behavior, and drugs are no different than alcohol in that respect.

The immediate result of not having illegal drugs is a dramatic decline in the prison population. This allows those who might have had jobs and been productive in society to continue working and not become a liability on the tax rolls.

The secondary result is the cost of drugs drops precipitously, which reduces the income available to those selling drugs. This makes drug-dealing less attractive as an employment opportunity compared with working in a legitimate occupation. Poor minorities (and whites as well) in inner cities or elsewhere will be motivated to join the system if they think they have a fairer chance of succeeding economically. This will reduce the number of people on welfare and encourage more two-parent families since the clear majority of felons are men who might otherwise have remained employed and supporting their families.

The tertiary impact of legalizing drugs is that racial unrest—currently a hot topic due to police shootings, racial profiling, and overt racism (despite America having elected its first black president)—will dissipate. Disgruntled, disaffected citizens will always respond with protest and rebellion if they are oppressed or pushed too far into a corner. Leveling the playing field by eliminating the grossly discriminatory institution of illegal drugs will do more to bring about law and order than any other get tough approach.

 

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