The U.S. Department of Justice’s response to promptly address the evident problem of excessive use of force by agents from various state and municipal police bodies is a necessary step in curbing reprehensible abuses of citizens, especially African Americans and Latino communities and other minorities.
Racism and other violent practices, as seen in videos of the police intervention that ended in the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, must be eradicated through comprehensive reforms of law enforcement agencies in the United States and its territories.
Bills introduced in Congress to reform law enforcement systems seeking to ensure interventions without excessive force and to implement public safety models with a supportive health approach are commendable efforts that must be translated into regulations and laws comprehensively enforced in the United States, find their grounds on justice for all.
Meanwhile, in Puerto Rico, where the U.S. Department of Justice and the government, in recognizing cases of civil rights violations by state agents, agreed to substantial changes in the Police, it is urgent to speed up the reform approved on July 17, 2013. The 301 requirements included in the police reform were designed to promote sustainable cultural, operational, structural, investigative, and educational changes to improve Police policies and practices.
The local police reform arose in response to reports of alleged patterns or practices of civil rights violations by state agents. An investigation by the Justice Department completed in 2011 detected excessive use of force, unreasonable use of force and misconduct aimed at suppressing the exercise of freedom of expression, as well as unreasonable searches and seizures, all in violation of the U.S. Constitution. Implementing the changes agreed is an issue that cannot be ignored here in Puerto Rico.
The lawlessness of police forces in the U.S, and Puerto Rico and worldwide promotes distrust among citizens while fostering insecurity in communities, especially in neighborhoods where vulnerable people, black citizens, or ethnic minorities live. Police practices that are abusive or motivated by racism or other types of discrimination are violations of the constitution that also violate the fundamental mandate to protect lives and property.
There are official documents written Expert lawyers and civil rights advocates have prepared documents that set forth categorical standards and guidelines for police performance. The provisions set out strategies and techniques on the use of regulated force against suspected lawbreakers. They also incorporate technology, among other modern tools, to prevent the deplorable acts of police brutality that in the United States and other countries have too often culminated in death and have seriously hurt hundreds of citizens.
At the historic moment of mass public repudiation of the circumstances of the death of African-American George Floyd, the U.S. government is called upon to pursue reforms with amendments to statutes and regulations coupled with a broad educational process to strongly fight racist practices that violate civil rights.
The lessons of public repudiation of the reprehensible conduct documented in the Minneapolis intervention should also serve to discourage any discriminatory practices that impact other governmental or private institutions and that are also seen in certain sectors of society promoting racial supremacy and other bias and inequality behaviors that ignore the Constitution´s clear provisions.
To advance this essential goal, the United States must design consistent measures to close the inequality gap that closes the door to income parity, employment, and educational opportunities for blacks and minorities who lack quality health services, among other benefits for decent living conditions.
Three centuries after the abolition of slavery, the bill imposes a firm will to reconstitute a society of equality and justice for all, as framed by the founding fathers of a nation conceived as a model of democracy for the world.