Police brutality is a problem we are all concerned about. It’s a complex problem with a lot of different “roots”, many of which feel out of reach to the average citizen. I do not believe in powerlessness. Let’s consider attacking this from a different perspective. What if we could infiltrate the culture of the police department and disrupt the established set of rewards and consequences? What if we could do this without having to bother a single city councilman or senator?
Here’s what I am proposing: Create an annual award that is given to a select group of police officers who have been identified by the public as having provided excellent service to the community. The award would be comprised of both massive public recognition, and a money prize. An annual “Good Cop Award”.
- Evidence of excellent policing could be gathered via citizens filming interactions with police on smartphones. We all agree that there need to be more cameras pointed at police. If they knew that their GOOD behavior, filmed, might land them a $10,000 prize at the annual ceremony, that might help shift the traditionally defensive stance cops have about being filmed. A large enough prize and public recognition could turn it into an opportunity rather than a liability
- Other forms of “evidence” of good policing could be considered
- News media coverage can be coordinated so that the recognized officers get state wide praise
- Local celebs and state politicians could be recruited to increase the prestige of receiving the award
- Citizen donors, benefactors, and corporate sponsors could be sought to create an annual fund that the prize money would come from. Imagine having 5 checks for $10,000 each to give out to police officers who have demonstrated a commitment to the ideal of “serve and protect” rather than “tax collector for the king”.
The bottom line is this: police behavior is a function of it’s consequences. We as a concerned public have the freedom and opportunity to create some NEW consequences that are both disruptive to the old system and based entirely on positivity and progress.
This public recognition campaign will also be a vehicle to keep the topic of police accountability in the public eye and to help fuel political & institutional changes that need to be made on the inside to help make fundamental ad permanent changes. If this campaign were to be successful, it could be a model for other communities across the nation that they could implement themselves.
Success would be defined when the program becomes well known enough that every police officer and a substantial part of the public is AWARE that citizens band together to financially reward great policing every year. This level of awareness would be enough to begin bending the dialogue in the right direction, which is the foundation for substantial, institutional changes.
This is just an idea. If you think it has some merit, leave a comment below. If enough people like the idea, we will move onto the next stage of making this happen.