Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette

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Dismantling Police Brutality

Here's another article about police brutality, raising the question of how to dismantle this system of oppression. Because it's not about keeping the peace, it's about maintaining the unidirectional flow of violence.

So that made me wonder, what would a REAL peacemaking organization look like? Imagine training a group of people in nonviolence, de-escalation, mediation and negotiation, restorative justice, and other techniques of civilized conflict resolution. Set them out to watch for situations where trouble begins, and intervene before a crime is committed. Interrupt the creeper orbiting the drunk girl. Break up the argument before the first punch is thrown. Help homeless people find food and shelter so they don't steal to survive or wander in front of a moving bus. Get the freaking-out person calmed down and either taken home or to a health facility. Teach coping, calming, communication, conflict resolution, and other problem-solving skills to people who need them. Get ahead of the damage curve. Put a safety net under people so a small problem does not escalate into a large one. Make peace, not war.

Because when you try to solve problems with violence, more often than not you just make matters worse by shifting the direction of the violence. You're not actually creating peace. That is a completely different skill set, and in fact, there is precious little overlap between the skills of violence and those of peace. Most folks are good at one and largely suck at the other. We do not have a lot of bifocal people on this spectrum.

I checked over in Terramagne and of course the setup is different there. They don't exactly have a peacemaking branch but they have several overlaps into similar territory, including but not limited to ...

* Some police departments have a branch for handling things that amount to non-criminal emergencies which exceed the coping skills of civilians or civilian organizations. It's like how they have a homicide department and property crimes department and so forth. Usually teams consist of a topical specialist crosstrained in law enforcement paired with a police officer crosstrained in a topical specialty. Say you have a team who handles mental health emergencies. One will be a psychologist or the like, with extra training in case the situation turns violent. The other will be a cop trained to handle people who have lost control, to make sure they don't hurt themselves or anyone else. The mutual goal is to get someone either back in control of themselves, or if necessary, into medical care. Other teams might focus on things like crowd control or domestic disturbances.

* T-American police and most criminals have much less violent weapons, partly because Terramagne folks like guns a lot less than people do here. The flipside of that is superpowers and super-gizmos can be much worse. But the gist of it is, most conflicts in Terramagne are essentially dominance fights, where people may get banged up but the intent is rarely to cripple or kill anyone. That carries through in weapons and tactics, but also in training. BASH teams are the only law enforcement who routinely carry firearms, and they are deployed only in situations where a firefight is likely to break out, such as a raid on gunrunners or supervillains.

* They make much greater use of warning and educational methods. The vast majority of offenses based on something that could cause trouble, but where nobody got hurt this time, get first a warning ticket and then an educational assignment. It only jumps to fines or other concrete penalties if actual harm is done or the person just will not shape up. This saves a great deal of effort from the authorities, but it also allows them to create a paper trail that shows who is causing repeat problems. The National Hate Crimes Office is a prime example of this. They have minimal ability to impose actual penalties, but a tremendous amount of clout in demonstrating who is a bigot. Most of their influence falls in providing evidence for court cases, because proving something as a hate crime jacks up the sentencing. Since most criminals warm up slowly to major crimes, by the time someone does real damage, they usually have a trail of complaints which can be presented to show that yes, they are a serious problem and need major intervention now. But that warmup period also means society has a lot of time to intervene and convince people to quit doing this shit, before it gets worse.

* Campus security is separate from municipal police. You call campus security if someone is drunk, or a school rule has been broken, or a party gets out of hand, all the everyday stuff of enforcing school standards. You call the police if a law has been broken or people are otherwise hurting each other, the more serious standards of society at large. For mixed situations, the two can work together. Businesses and other large organizations often follow similar parameters. T-America does not tend to wall off areas and create a nerfed police precinct there.

* Schools still teach civics, home economics, shop, and health classes in ways that support this kind of social cohesion. They often add a whole separate class, or a nonclass program, which covers more precise techniques of conflict resolution and coping skills. This may be anything from an anti-bullying or tolerance program to one focused on mediation and peer politics. Most schools have a student council. Sankofa is one of the better-known programs for ethnic tolerance. This lays the groundwork for other people to step in when someone(s) loses their shit, and thus creates a better chance of settling everything quietly before anyone gets really hurt. It's pretty rare for a fight to break out and devolve into a gladitorial cheering section. It's more like what happened at my later high school, Uni High -- if people started fighting, the nearest students broke it up quickly and helped their friends work out the problem. Bystander response makes all the difference in the world.

* Various other organizations have what we might call social authority. The Activity Scouts are a leading example of this. They have the training to handle a wide range of emergencies. The Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts used to have separate signals and the merger is currently underway, but right now if you need to clear a crowded room in a hurry, you'll probably see both the hand-signs of the BS and the whistle-code of the GS in action. This stuff is familiar enough and effective enough that a handful of trained people can manage a bunch of untrained ones pretty well. That social authority means that most people will mind them, because they have a reputation for solving problems effectively. It also means that if someone balks and an argument gets bumped up the spectrum of force, a police officer is likely to side with an Activity Scout leader. I've seen Stuart confiscate a knife from a random stranger who was mishandling it, which is a hard rule inside the organization that becomes a soft rule outside it. If someone starts the "you can't take my stuff" routine, they are unlikely to win that argument, and the knife will be going home with a friend or relative who actually has a Whittling Chip in good standing.

* Terramagne generally prefers to solve problems earlier and lower on the spectrum of force. It's why they can have protests that don't turn into riots or disruptions of vital services. So there is also less call to escalate the violence by militarizing police forces.

This is why they can have nice things.
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