We are writing in regard to recent efforts to revise local police policies, including the use of force. The #8CANTWAIT requirements are a start, but they are basic standards that don't address the need for systemic change. In fact, many police departments across the country have already revised their policies—only to find that the violence toward people of color continues.
It is time to re-envision policing in our community. We should be asking the question: What are the essential functions of police? Other functions, such as mental health, noise violations, etc., can often be better handled by others in the community. Funding should reflect these functions and priorities.
One such approach to re-envision community policing is the practice of restorative justice, which places emphasis on accountability, making amends, and repairing the harm caused by crime. Rather than approaching criminal justice with the eye toward punishment, restorative justice explores ways to make both the victim and the perpetrator whole again. Isn't that the goal of community?
The city of San Luis Obispo has often stood on the forefront of change. We have just such an opportunity now to create a community that is truly safe and welcoming for everyone.
Bend the Arc SLO