Local police departments adopting 8 Can’t Wait
Backers say measures could reduce police violence
AROUND THE COUNTRY, and now in Massachusetts, police departments are adopting a set of policies that could potentially decrease violence inflicted by law enforcement.
The “8 Can’t Wait” project seeks to have law enforcement adopt quick and definitive changes to their policies on use of force, which have been questioned in the wake of the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer.
The eight policy changes are: banning chokeholds, requiring de-escalation, requiring a verbal warning before shooting at someone, exhausting all non-force and non-lethal alternatives, requiring other officers to intervene and stop excessive force used by other officers, banning shooting at moving vehicles, restricting extreme use of force to extreme situations, and requiring officers to report when they use or threaten force against a civilian (including pointing a firearm at someone).
The campaign was created following the 2014 fatal police shooting of Michael Brown, and has been promoted by former President Barack Obama and Oprah Winfrey.
It’s unclear if the department will adjust its use-of-deadly-force policies, which include some of the actions banned by the 8 Can’t Wait campaign. Those policies hasn’t been changed since 2008.
On Monday, the Cambridge Police Department issued an order requiring officers to intervene when a fellow member uses excessive force or does something unethical, one of the eight policy changes recommended as part of the 8 Can’t Wait project.
Police Commissioner Branville Bard Jr. said the intervention can be physical or verbal, and that failure to intervene could subject the officer to criminal prosecution, civil liability, or disciplinary action.
On Thursday, Arlington Police Chief Julie Flaherty announced a similar move, explicitly updating her department’s use of force policies to reflect 8 Can’t Wait. She said the department has had zero complaints about use of force so far in 2020.
The moves by local police departments come as many groups are moving to cut police funding and state lawmakers are considering legislation certification of law enforcement personnel and decertification if they fail to live up to the standards.
DeRay Mckesson, cofounder of Campaign Zero, the group that created the 8 Can’t Wait campaign, checked out Boston Police Department policies and said the department now meets seven of the policy recommendations, up from four.“They did not update the policies to require comprehensive reporting, notably when an officer points a gun at someone or threatens to point a gun at someone,” he told the Globe. “The current policy only requires reporting when an officer discharges a weapon.”
Vox points out that the campaign is well-structured for speedy implementation. If all of the reforms are implemented, according to a correlation study, there could be a decrease in police violence of 72 percent, a claim that may get a chance to be tested.