Current events have many feeling upset and helpless, but there are meaningful, positive actions we can take from home.
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It’s hard to imagine that anything could be more disruptive to our world than COVID-19, but recent news stories about racial violence and conflict have surpassed even the all-encompassing pandemic. If you’re following along with it all at home, it’s only natural to feel upset and deeply worried, all exacerbated by a frustrating sense of powerlessness. But what if I told you there’s a simple, very quick action you can take from home, that can make a real difference?
Last week, I was desperately trying to think of something I could do to help, as a mom at home with three small children. I wanted so much to do something in my area to be of any assistance, but couldn’t imagine what could be done from home. Then I stumbled across this article a friend shared on social media. The first two items on the list of ways to work for justice are the following:
Google whether your local police department currently outfits all on-duty police officers with a body-worn camera and requires that the body-worn camera be turned on immediately when officers respond to a police call. If they don’t, write to your city or town government representative and police chief to advocate for it. The racial make-up of your town doesn’t matter — This needs to be standard everywhere. Multiply your voice by soliciting others to advocate as well, writing on social media about it, writing op-eds, etc.
Google whether your city or town currently employs evidence-based police de-escalation trainings. Again, this needs to be standard procedure everywhere. Write to your city or town government representative and police chief and advocate for it. Multiply your voice by soliciting others to advocate as well, writing on social media about it, writing op-eds, etc.
Body-worn cameras are becoming increasingly common, with approximately one-third of U.S. municipal police departments having implemented their use. They are a benefit to both police officers and the community, encouraging civility, transparency, and respect on both sides.
Advocating for their use in your local community is a quick, simple, meaningful step anyone can take to promote a more just and peaceful society.
After reading the article, I thought, “I can contact my local police department today.” I was nervous to make the phone call, but it ended up going so much better than I could have expected.
I called my local police department and asked if I could speak to someone who could answer questions about departmental policies. I was directed to the deputy police chief, with whom I had an incredibly positive conversation.
When I asked if the department uses body-worn cameras when responding to calls, he told me that they do not because of funding issues, but he knows several police departments that use body cameras and strongly supports their use. He gave me a list of reasons why he likes the idea.
I asked if there was anything I could do to help the department acquire them, and he encouraged me to write a letter to the mayor, which I did the next day. I also asked if the department employs evidence-based de-escalation training, and he confirmed that they do.
The conversation was very encouraging. The police chief was on the same page and thinking along the same lines I was suggesting. It left me feeling hopeful about my local police force. And it was so quick and easy!
The truth we need to remember is that police officers and community members are often on the same side when it comes to fighting racial injustice. Many good officers want to see an end to police brutality just as much as protesters do. We can all work together against the common enemy that is racism. My conversation with my local police chief made that clear to me.
If you’d like to take action in the same way, below is a script for calling your police department:
“Thank you for your service. I’m calling to ask if your department currently outfits all on-duty police officers with a body-worn camera and requires that the body-worn camera be turned on immediately when officers respond to a police call. I’m also wondering if your department employs evidence-based de-escalation trainings.”
After my conversation with the police chief, I shared my story about the phone call on a Facebook group for moms. Several women commented or messaged me to say that my story had inspired them to make the same call to their local police departments. That’s when I realized that perhaps more people out there may want specific suggestions for a simple, pro-active measures they can take where they live.
As we continue to pray for justice and peace in our country, we can also take action, even from home. Let’s build bridges of charity and reconciliation, so we can work towards a society that reflects God’s desire for justice and peace.
Saints who fought racism
When you’ve suffered injustice, turn to St. Barbara with this prayer