Debates over police reform are often presented as an “us” vs. “them” issue. We are not against the police. As I see it, we are all in this together.

The police have as much to gain from making these policy changes as does the community at large. There is a history of blaming the police, but if you look at many issues historically, you will see that as a society we have dumped a lot of problems on them.

In the 1980s, President Ronald Reagan’s decision to deinstitutionalize mentally ill patients increased homelessness and overloaded emergency rooms and jails. Police became responsible for this vulnerable population. They were left with few tools — take them to jail, an emergency room, a shelter if available, or turn them loose.

Then came the crack epidemic and the war on drugs. Again, the police were held responsible for dealing with this and had two choices — turn them loose or incarcerate — setting the stage for racial profiling and disparity in sentencing.

The suggested proposals will benefit everyone, especially the police. Traffic stops can be dangerous, not only for the person being stopped but also for law enforcement. Eliminating unnecessary stops reduces the chances of racial profiling and potential violent confrontations. Increasing funding for mental health services also benefits law enforcement. It gives them a better choice than arrest, ignore or take to emergency rooms. It provides support for both sides.

What we don’t want to do is ignore the problem or suggest that there is no problem.

In the long run, making policy changes is good for everyone. The police get the support they need and more trust from the community they serve, and the community, in turn, feels safe and more trusting of those who serve us.

Sue Henkin-Haas

San Gregorio

Recommended for you

(4) comments

LaHondaVS

I think that Sue Henkins-Haas's letter to the Editor on June 29th is spot on. Allocating funds for mental health training of police and hiring of experts is not "defunding the police," a catch phrase used to deter citizens from the real purpose of police reform: to enable the police to function in a more marked and motivated, and humane way.

uffish thought

You don't seem to realize that the proposal is to take funds from the law enforcement budget and hire other staff instead. The proposal was to remove the salaries of one and a half deputies, out of only eight to begin with.

John Charles Ullom

You refuse to educate yourself. If you had attended any meeting where this was discussed you would know that Councilmember Jimenez is adamantly opposed to reducing the number of cops on patrol. He has said so repeatedly. He has made clear that what he wants is programs and funding aimed at dealing with mentally disturbed people.

But it more fun to decide what you know based on what some talking head blowhard said on cable news.

If you are mentally ill and in crises, and have an interaction with cops, there should not be such significant chance you will end up dead. Jay walking should not end up being a capital crime. But a man was piled on by our Deputies until he died, simply because he jay walked.

When one raises their hands above their head and tries to surrender, one should not be shot at. Yet due to bad polices, a cop went into a confined space looking for a woman who he expected to find there who was seen carrying a gun, a pottle of wine, and ranting about the end of the world.

When a young woman in a mental health crises needs help, maybe we should send a mental health professional first. Instead, a cop with a uniform, flashing lights, a gun, and a cop's attitude is dispatched When the girl freaks out, she gets shot.

Start reading and pay attention if you prefer not to come off as a rightest Q fool spouting rightwing talking points they heard some dufus on the AM radio spew.

Yosemite

My memory is that it was Governor, not President, Reagan and it was 1960s/1970s, not 1980s.

Stopping people for minor infractions in order to run their licenses for warrants is a very questionable practice, especially when viewed from a public protection viewpoint.

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.

More Stories