Our Work

Preventing Police Violence


Preventing police violence with new approaches to policing

The senseless and brutal murders of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd brought millions of Americans of all backgrounds and races to the streets demanding justice and reigniting the national debate on policing, public safety, and racial justice.

While communities of color, and particularly Black Americans, have long decried racial disparities in policing and the murder of unarmed Black men and women by police officers, the recent killings of Black Americans have awoken the consciousness of the broad spectrum of Americans. Brady joins the renewed calls for systemic change and racial justice.

OUR APPROACH TO POLICE REFORM

Brady takes an evidence-based approach to gun violence prevention rooted in public health and safety. That same approach, informed by the work that organizations, coalitions, activists, researchers, and public health and safety experts, leads us as we explore how to achieve effective and lasting transformative changes to policing.

Changes to policing must include each of these four elements:

Brady makes these calls for changes to policing while remaining committed to broader gun violence prevention laws and policy, understanding that, for example, demilitarization of law enforcement via the removal of military weaponry and hardware must be complemented with the demilitarization of American communities and policy, law, and action to reduce the gun violence epidemic.

    Above all, we understand that improving policing cannot be discussed without first admitting that the American policing system has a foundation rooted in white supremacy and racism.

    Why police violence is gun violence

    Police violence is the unlawful, unnecessary, or disproportionate use of force by police.

    The rate of police violence in America far exceeds that in similar industrialized countries. Interactions with an American police officer are 10 times more likely to end in death than police encounters in the U.K. When Dante Barry, Executive Director and Founder of Brighter Days for Justice, first stated that police violence was gun violence, it was not immediately embraced by traditional gun violence prevention groups, including Brady. We have since taken this call for justice to heart.

    The presence of a firearm heightens tensions and exacerbates confrontations. This is particularly relevant within police interactions, in which there is already an inherently unequal power dynamic.

    And because police violence, in all of its forms, is facilitated by the direct use, threat, or perceived threat of firearms, police violence is gun violence.

    The prevalence of police violence is exacerbated by deeply-rooted racism that, in American culture, the shocking militarization of police, the insufficient training and dangerous policing tactics and policies, including, for example, warrior training, and extreme barriers to transparency and accountability. As we work to tackle the gun violence epidemic in America, we cannot ignore police violence or its devastating effects.

    Policing and Racial Injustice

    People of color, especially Black and Latinx people, are much more likely to be killed by police than white people. Black men are 2.8 times more likely to be the victims of deadly police force. This number also does not account for the daily injuries and instances of harassment, abuse, and threatening behavior, otherwise known as “over-policing” suffered by Black and Latinx communities. Black and Latinx citizens are three times as likely to be searched by police when stopped, and are twice as likely to have force used or threatened whenever they're approached by police. A key example of this is in policies like “stop and frisk” that are rooted in discriminatory policing. Such strategies unfairly target communities of color and make even well-intentioned attempts at policing problematic.

    Overall quality of life is significantly impacted and diminished by over-policing in Black and Latinx neighborhoods. High rates of law enforcement presence in these communities does not translate into effective or equitable policing or public safety, rather it creates mistrust and fear between Black and Latinx communities and law enforcement. The daily aggressions and systemic oppression communities of color have faced since the inception of our country are not solely a product of policing, but they are perpetuated by law enforcement practices.

    Conclusion

    Police violence is gun violence. The lives ended by police violence are too many to
    name. The lives forever changed and traumatized by police violence are too many
    to name. The impact of police violence on generations of entire communities is
    incomprehensible. Like all gun violence, there is no easy solution, no simple panacea, or
    one piece of legislation that will break the cycle of racist policing and violence overnight
    and establish the essential reform, transparency, and accountability needed in
    communities across the country. But there are steps forward. Classifying police violence
    as gun violence is merely the first step that Brady needs to take to lend our voice and
    resources to the chorus working to end the plague of law enforcement violence.