Police reform in the US

Police reform in the US

As protests provoked by the police killing of George Floyd continue across the United States, demonstrators are demanding police reform.

The statistics are grim: US police detain and kill far more people than those in any other developed countries. The rate of fatal police shootings in the US is thirty times higher than in Germany. The rate of deaths in police custody is more than double Australia's and six times higher than in the UK.


Crucially, the data show that black people – in particular black men – are disproportionately victimized. US police use force with black suspects nearly four times more frequently than with whites, according to a study by the Center for Policing Equity.

But what exactly does "police reform" mean? Calls to "defund" the police have become a rallying cry. There is a wide range of demands from protesters and activists. The proposals fall into two broad categories.

Redefine police behavior.

Some activists want to start by tightening police rules. The most prominent set of recommendations here are the "8 Can't Wait" reforms – a list of eight measures developed by Campaign Zero, an advocacy group that grew out of the Black Lives Matter protests of 2014.

The measures include banning chokeholds, compelling officers to try de-escalation before using lethal force, and requiring officers to report all threats and uses of force on the job. You can read the full list here.

Campaign Zero says it's a cost-free way to swiftly and substantially decrease police violence. But it's largely up to the country's 18,000 local police departments to adopt the measures. Some big city police chiefs and union bosses have pushed back. They say these rules are unnecessary or that they will make it harder for officers to respond adequately to dangerous situations.

Redefine policing altogether.

Many people want to go much further, by taking some of the funding earmarked for police and redirecting it towards social services, health care, and education, particularly in low-income communities.

Supporters of this approach – sometimes called "defunding", though better described as "reorienting" — argue it would reduce crime by addressing the root socioeconomic causes of criminality, and reduce police brutality by drawing down the involvement of police in situations where excessive force is common – mental health or drug abuse emergencies, for example. Critics worry that reducing police funding will make cities less safe, particularly in poorer neighborhoods where violent crime is more prevalent. And powerful police unions are hardly keen on seeing their departments lose resources.

A local issue or a national one?
Unlike in most other countries, funding and oversight of police in the US happens mostly at the local level.

But activists are calling for the federal government to act in a few important ways: One is to weaken federally-mandated protections for police officers who are accused of misconduct. Another is to limit police departments' access to military-style SWAT equipment. The militarization of police, which began during the "War on Drugs" in the 1990s, has contributed to the excessive use of force, particularly against people of color.

Lastly, Congress does appropriate several hundred million dollars a year for police training across the country. Activists say that by attaching stricter conditions and greater oversight to that money, Congress could help to change local police approaches in a way that would benefit both police departments and the communities they serve.

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We're just days away from COP26, the landmark global climate conference that's been dubbed the last chance to get the climate crisis in check. In the lead-up to the event in Glasgow, dozens of countries have released new ambitions to reduce their future carbon footprints. For years, climate activists and experts have called on governments to introduce carbon pricing schemes – either through taxes or emissions-trading schemes. So who's heeded the warning? We take a look at the top ten carbon emitters' share of global emissions and details about their respective national carbon pricing schemes.

Marietje Schaake, International Policy Director at Stanford's Cyber Policy Center, Eurasia Group senior advisor and former MEP, discusses trends in big tech, privacy protection and cyberspace:

Do cryptocurrencies make it harder to enforce foreign policy sanctions?

Well, that is exactly what the Biden administration worries about. As part of growing concerns of whether unregulated currencies undermine a whole host of policies, sanctions and foreign or trade policy should be a priority area. And just like others who wish to evade tracing of their wealth or transactions, the very states or their sanctioned entities should be assumed to resort to all options to evade restrictions while continuing to do business. So having cryptocurrencies undermining the ability to enforce strategic goals logically raises eyebrows in Washington.

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Back in August, when the Taliban took over, we asked whether anyone in the international community would recognize them. Now it looks like things are heading that way.

This week, the Kremlin hosted a summit with the Taliban that was attended by China, India and Pakistan, as well as all five Central Asian Republics.

The domestically-focused US, however, wasn't there. The US continues to maintain that the Taliban can't be trusted. But does it matter? In 2021 does a Taliban-led government even need American recognition to function and thrive?

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For Kevin Rudd, former Australian PM and now CEO of the Asia Society, the science on climate change is pretty much done, so the only unresolved issues are tech and — more importantly — lack of political leadership. He can't think of a single national political leader who can fill the role, and says the only way to get political action on climate is to mobilize public opinion.

Rudd joined for the first of a two-part Sustainability Leaders Summit livestream conversation sponsored by Suntory. Watch here and register here to watch part two Friday 10/22 at 8 am ET.

Taking place on October 21 and 22, the Sustainability Leaders Summit will go beyond preexisting narratives and debate priorities for governments and industries ahead of COP26. Placing the spotlight on Asia's role in the global sustainability agenda, the event will address whether Asian countries and companies can achieve shared sustainability goals, and what is needed to help get them there. The summit will be co-hosted by Tak Niinami, CEO of Suntory Holdings, and Ian Bremmer, founder and president of Eurasia Group and GZERO Media. We will address three key questions: How can Asian countries, with the help of the private sector, achieve shared Sustainability Goals? Why does this matter? And what are the policy changes needed to bring it about?

Attendance is free and open to the public. Register to attend.

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The minutiae of supply chains makes for boring dinner table talk, but it's increasingly becoming a hot topic of conversation now that packages are taking much longer to arrive in the consumer-oriented US, while prices of goods soar.

With the issue unlikely to be resolved anytime soon, right-wing media have dubbed President Biden the Grinch Who Stole Christmas, conjuring images of sad Christmas trees surrounded by distraught children whose holiday gifts are stuck somewhere in the Pacific Ocean.

It hasn't been a good run for Uncle Joe in recent months. What issues are tripping him up?

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Ian Bremmer shares his insights on global politics this week with a look at the NBA's latest rift with China, Brazil's Senate investigation, and COVID booster shots.

China wipes Boston Celtics from NBA broadcast after the "Free Tibet" speech from Enes Kanter. Is NBA boxing itself into a corner?

Nice mixed sports metaphor there. NBA has some challenges because they are of course the most progressive on political and social issues in the United States among sports leagues, but not when it comes to China, their most important international market. And you've seen that with LeBron James telling everyone about we need to learn better from the Communist Party on issues like Hong Kong and how Daryl Morey got hammered for taking his stance in favor of Hong Kong democracy. Well, Enes Kanter's doing the same thing and he's a second-string center. Didn't even play yesterday and still the Chinese said that they were not going to air any Boston Celtics games. Why? Because he criticized the Chinese government and had some "Free Tibet" sneakers. This is a real problem for a lot of corporations out there, but particularly publicly, the NBA. Watch for a bunch of American politicians to make it harder for the NBA going forward, saying how dare you kowtow to the Chinese when you're all about "Black Lives Matter" inside the United States. No fun.

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