Public safety may be the new police

A look into police brutality and what that means for N.D. and Minn. police

Photo Courtesy | Fibonacci Blue
Protest against Police Brutality.

The duties of the police are to protect and serve, but for decades their ability to follow these duties has been questioned by citizens. The police are supposed to serve citizens, but many citizens feel they are instead, being victimized.

In an interview with the Harvard Gazette, Rajiv Sethi, a professor of economics at Barnard College, Columbia University, and an external professor at Santa Fe Institute, shared his thoughts on the disparities of individual areas.

“In the country as a whole, you’re about two to three times more likely to face deadly force if you’re Black than if you are white” said Sethi. “But if you look at individual cities separately, disparities in exposure are much higher.”

Police departments around the country go through completely different training experiences, which may be a cause for spikes in certain areas.

Another assistant professor interviewed by the Gazette shared his support for the recent protests regarding lowering funds for police departments. He believes that funneling more money into departments is not a fix but rather a short-term solution, and instead encourages the formation of more community services that will help prevent crime and lessen the need for police.

“That was their solution to the building’s lack of air conditioning,” said Brandon Terry, a Harvard Assistant Professor of African and African American Studies and Social Studies. “Just grab an ice cube.”

According to Mapping Police Violence, Black people have been 25% of those killed by police in 2021, with the U.S. population being 13%.

In North Dakota, according to the Police Scorecard, the police have scored 62%. These scores are based on police spending, use of force and officer accountability, with higher scores being the best within these parameters. The lowest score was given in racial disparities amongst drug-related arrests, where N.D. scored an 18%.

“That was their solution to the building’s lack of air conditioning,” said Brandon Terry, a Harvard Assistant Professor of African and African American Studies and Social Studies. “Just grab an ice cube.”

The site also compares individual towns in which Fargo is the highest scoring at 62%, and a majority of towns scoring 50% or lower. The site uses local, state and federal databases to calculate these percentages.

The criticism of police has led many to support the movement for defunding the police. This movement focuses on moving funds from police to other task forces that can respond to calls such as mental health related incidents. Decriminalization of certain drug-related laws has also been of importance to citizens as the decriminalization of low level drug offenses would lead to less arrests, of which often contain racial disparities.

The idea behind the defund the police movement is moving towards public health and safety rather than focusing on these issues as crime.

In June 2020, some members of the Minneapolis city council got behind the movement and pledged to dismantle the current police force in order to restructure a system with the goal of community and public safety in mind.

Minnesota Representative, Ilhan Omar, is also in support of the change. In a town hall event in Minneapolis she shared her view of dysfunction the current department holds.

“The police have chosen to not fulfill their oath of office and to provide the public safety they are owed to the citizens they serve,” Omar said.

North Dakota’s Rep. Senator Cramer does not share these same beliefs and posted an Ed-Op on his website with the title “Cops are Heroes — Don’t Defund or Demoralize Them.”

Cramer believes at this time it is important to defend the police, and like many other politicians in N.D., does not see things changing within the state as far as defunding the police.

“How are we supposed to recruit the next generation of law enforcement if this is how they can expect to be treated? If we fail to start from a position of respect, the thin blue line of heroes will be gone,” Cramer said.

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