|Michael wants to rebuild trust between the community and law enforcement while ensuring safety continues to be a top priority.|
Darkened cars, battle fatigues, military hardware — what happened to Officer Friendly? | Editorial
By SUN SENTINEL EDITORIAL BOARD
SOUTH FLORIDA SUN SENTINEL
Even sensible change comes hard, as Michael Weinstein has found out in the course of his campaign for the Democratic nomination in Florida House District 81.
Here’s what Weinstein wrote about law enforcement reform, all of it quite reasonable:
“Over the years, I have watched this country fight racism from the outside in, instead of the inside out. Meaning, we arrest and punish individual offenders who violate civil rights, but we are not focused on curing the problem. From my perspective we need a three-part approach: 1. Mandatory de-escalation training. 2. Demilitarization of law enforcement. Police Officers should have all the proper equipment needed to protect themselves, but that does not necessarily mean wearing fatigues and patrol officers driving unmarked cars. These things can cause distrust and are not necessary for effective law enforcement, and 3. I support the idea of Citizen Review Boards.”
Read closely, however, Weinstein wasn’t necessarily questioning the use of unmarked cars under all circumstances. They’re essential for stakeouts, for example. But if he was suggesting that they shouldn’t be used routinely, he’s right.
Moreover, an unmarked car is hardly the deterrent that a visible police cruiser is. Weinstein told the newspaper he supports the use of unmarked cars for surveillance, but not community policing, and that “road patrol officers should wear their blues and greens and not combat fatigues. SWAT officers and others,” he added, “it’s okay.”
Police departments need to realize that some reforms have become inevitable. Citizen review boards is one of them.
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