The killing of George Floyd has shocked the conscience of our nation. We are right to be horrified. We are right to demand justice. I am a former law enforcement officer, and that affects my perspective. After watching the disturbing video, I can say that there is no possible set of circumstances that could justify what these officers did to this man.
The horrific murder of George Floyd must be answered with the arrest, trial and conviction of the officers involved. They are an embarrassment to their profession and must be punished to the full extent of the law. But these issues go far beyond this one case. The flames of unrest across America clearly demonstrate that we need to take steps to rebuild trust in our police forces nationwide.
We can build that trust by allowing civilian review boards to investigate complaints against officers. We also need to ensure that every stop is reported, and that the reason for the stop and the detainee’s racial background is documented so that we can monitor police for evidence of racial profiling.
We need to end civil asset forfeiture abuses, which often disproportionately affect minority groups, by making it impossible for the government to seize property from defendants unless they are actually convicted of a crime.
We need to increase the use of body cameras. Video evidence helps hold officers accountable for their actions. It also protects officers who are falsely accused.
As a former police officer, I experienced this firsthand. A man I arrested decided to retaliate against me personally by filing a complaint alleging that I had robbed him during his arrest. My video was reviewed. The video documented my search of the suspect and my inventory of his personal property. It proved I had done nothing wrong, and the complaint was dismissed. This video evidence helped to protect my reputation as a man of integrity. I will always be glad that that camera was on.
Currently body cameras are not required for police in Utah. Not all departments use them, and many departments do not have enough cameras to equip every officer. The state legislature should take action to permanently fund more body cameras for police departments throughout Utah, with one hundred percent of police officers equipped by 2023.
Taking these steps will help weed out bad cops and protect the honest ones that are trying to serve the public, and it will go a long way towards helping rebuild trust in law enforcement in our communities. We must do this, and we must do this now, because police departments can only be truly effective when they have the trust of the communities that they serve.