stop calling the police, it’s killing us
April 12, 2018
By Katie Mitchell / WearYourVoice Mag, AFROPUNK contributor
As an institution, the police perpetuate and uphold the violence of white supremacy and capitalism. The individual personality of police officers does not negate that fact that as an institution, law enforcement does more harm than good, especially in communities of color.
As gentrification spreads throughout the United States, white gentrifiers have a responsibility to decrease the police presence in the communities they’re occupying. Police departments have the tendency to over-police people of color in gentrifying neighborhoods to make new white residents feel safe, but police are more dangerous than any civilian.
Thus, it’s important to limit unnecessary interaction between the police and Black and Brown folks. Far too often, people call the police seeking help and the police only make the situation worse.
As Taj James, the founder of the Movement Strategy Center, said, “I am starting to think we are better off without them. That we don’t need them. That if we shut them all down today and transferred all the resources they control to communities to set up systems of community safety and accountability we would all be much happier.”
There are alternatives to contacting the police, and these alternatives can be more effective than getting law enforcement involved in situations that they are not specifically trained for. These alternatives are also less likely to end in a fatality. Ahead find safe, effective ways to handle conflict and emergencies that don’t involve calling the police.
Mind Your Business
Mind your business. This isn’t a joke. If nobody is in danger, why call the police? We share spaces and everyone moves through the world in a different way. Just because someone isn’t behaving how you would prefer them to act, that doesn’t mean that calling the police is justified. In fact, calling the police often puts people of color in danger. Your neighbors may be a nuisance, but you’d rather them be annoying than fatally shot.
Address The Situation Directly
If you’ve tried minding your business and your neighbors continue to be too loud, leave trash on your stoop, or make the entire building smell like weed, be an adult and use your words. The more you get to know your neighbors, the easier it is to have a constructive conversation about each other’s needs. Chances are you can resolve your issues with a healthy dialogue. Keep the police out of an easily resolved dispute among neighbors, and everyone will benefit from it.
Implement A Community-Based Crisis Response System
Community policing is often more effective than calling the police because your neighbors have a stake in the overall well-being of the neighborhood. As you get to know your neighbors better, consider implementing a community-based crisis response system like Buoy, a mobile and desktop app that connects families, friends, and teams during emergency situations. Try it out. It’s free!
Call A Local Crisis Center
Local crisis centers have resources for folks who are having a mental health emergency. They will not escalate the situation, and unlike the police, they are not armed with deadly weapons. If you don’t know the number to a crisis center in your area, call 2-1-1.
It’s important to use your best judgement in deciding what situations call for the police and which ones can be handled in a different way. If you feel protected by the police, good for you, but just know you’re not the one being policed.
Justice in Policing – Alternatives to Policing
Rose City CopWatch – Alternatives to Police
McGill Daily – Alternatives to the Police
This post is in partnership with WearYourVoiceMag.
*Katie is a public health professional and freelance writer for hire. Her public health focus is health communication and programming; while, her writing focuses on race, social justice, and (of course) public health. She enjoys reading, devouring chocolate chip cookies, and pretending to be from Atlanta.
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