Council convenes on Monday for a Work Session on Police Reform, and it looks perhaps a little restricted, addressing part of the question, about "non-criminal" calls, but totally eliding questions about racial bias, about white supremacy and fascism, and about overmilitarized policing. Hopefully there will be more on those questions later.
|Two visions of policing|
Front page, Register-Guard, July 18th
Still, even with this more narrow set of questions, it looks on the surface like there is space for a CAHOOTS style program and for other non-armed response to non-criminal calls. So we may see some incremental improvement, if not full reform.
The School Resource Officer program is sure to be a central topic as well as the way we police unhoused people camping and loitering.
It will be interesting to see what informed critics of the Police have to say.
From the Staff Report:
The Salem Police Department is a full-service organization responsible for the safety and well-being of the entire community. The police department responds to a wide variety of community issues, including neighborhood nuisances, traffic enforcement, traffic accidents, welfare checks, suspicious activity, community events and criminal activity.
This work session is intended to discuss how we respond to non-criminal types of calls, options that would be advantageous for this community to have, and the resources necessary for that to occur.
In recent years, responses to calls commonly considered non-criminal in nature have increased dramatically. These include responding to people experiencing emotional distress, people unable to care for themselves due to drug or alcohol use or addiction, and individuals who, for a variety of reasons, have found themselves unsheltered and may be causing disruption or safety concerns as they attempt to find places to stay for a night. As these calls increase, less time is available to officers to establish a presence in neighborhoods and to address criminal activity.
When a community member calls for help, we respond. Sometimes we are the only organization available to respond to many of the non-criminal issues. In other communities, community service agencies may also respond in partnership with or as an alternative to law enforcement. In Salem, our partners do not have the capacity to respond as an alternative to a police response because of the volume of calls.
100 years ago, the Police used "disorderly conduct" charges against some dancing, and if Prohibition was the main driver, race was often also subtext.
|September 14th, 1920|
The shimmy took America by storm in the 1910s and 1920s, helping to turn the staid choreography of ballroom traditions into something sexier and more vital. As historians like Rebecca A. Bryant have documented, the shimmy was an early example of white performers (most famously in this case, Mae West) claiming an African-American performance style without obviously parodying it, as they did in minstrelsy.
This should remind us that policing and our definitions of crime always exist in history and respond to that history and to changing culture. What we do now doesn't have to be what we do in the future.