The Coronado Democratic Club is hosting an ongoing series of discussions on Equal Justice. On August 8, 2020, the Club held its third installment entitled “Unequal Justice: The Need for Police Reform and How to Accomplish It.”
This program was presented, via Zoom, by Mike Marrinan, a Coronado resident and club member. Mike, a civil rights lawyer for over 35 years, provided examples illustrating the need for police reform based on his experience. He included a historical overview identifying the roots of racial injustice in policing dating back to the police system formed after the Civil War.
Mr. Marrinan also discussed current racial inequities in policing and recommended the following reforms needed to address racial injustices:
- Police departments must first acknowledge that racial and other injustices exist in policing, and commit to change. Only with acknowledgement will real change happen.
- We must change the war mentality and militarization of police departments. De-escalation when possible must be required, and force permitted only as a last resort. In addition, officers must be required to intervene where they see another officer using unnecessary force, and held accountable if they do not.
- There must be accountability:
- Every officer must wear a body camera which should be on during all contacts. Recordings should be reviewed on a regular basis, to ensure that officers are following their training and department policies.
- Investigations of alleged misconduct and excessive use of force must be by an outside oversight group with adequate funding and the power to take disciplinary action where appropriate.
- Hiring systems need to change to insure that people who are prone to use force over de-escalation are not hired.
- Police supervisors need support in efforts to remove abusive officers.
Mr. Marrinan concluded by noting the progress that has already occurred since the murder of George Floyd shocked the country. He commented on the general willingness of local police departments to listen to community concerns. He expressed hope that the current environment will produce a transformation in policing that will create the necessary trust between all communities and those who are hired to protect and serve them.