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.

Okuafo Pa means good farmer in the Twi language of West Africa. Hence, the naming of the project reflects the value of good farming and the rewards it brings to the people of Ghana. The Okuafo Pa Project will support Ghana's sustainable development by promoting socio-economic growth and sustainable business models.

Watch to learn how Eni is helping youth to develop agricultural knowledge and skills.

Iranians head to the polls on Friday to vote for president, and it appears a foregone conclusion that hardliner Ebrahim Raisi, the nation's top judge, will win.

Outsiders, and many Iranians, roll their eyes at the predictability of this vote. Iran's Guardian Council, a dozen clerics and judges who answer only to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, has cleared the field for Raisi by ruling all of his credible challengers ineligible. The fix is in, and Iranians are now preparing for a moment when anti-reform conservatives, those who oppose social change inside Iran and deeper engagement with the West, will for the first time ever control the country's presidency, parliament, courts, and much of the media.

But simmering beneath the cynicism and predictability of this event is a deepening anxiety over Iran's future as it enters a potentially momentous period in the Islamic Republic's 42-year history. The Supreme Leader, in power for 32 years, is now 82 years old. Very few people know the true state of his health. Even if he outlives Raisi's presidency, which could last four or eight years, preparations for a historic, uncertain, and potentially dangerous leadership transition will intensify soon.

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Carl Bildt, former Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Sweden, shares his perspective from Europe:

After Biden's first visit, do his European allies feel that America is back?

I think they do. Wasn't particularly surprising, we've heard that message before. But now it was, sort of more concrete issues. I'm not certain there was, sort of major, major, major progress. But there was the beginning of a dialogue on trade and technology issues with Europe, clearly on security issues with NATO, and quite a number of other issues with G7, and general satisfaction with the outcome of the meeting with Putin. So, altogether good.

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Listen: Former US Ambassador to NATO Ivo Daalder weighs in on US President Joe Biden's first trip abroad, which included a very important first stop at the G7 summit in the United Kingdom, and the way forward for the US and its closest friends. Did he convince allies that "America is back" and ready to resume its leadership role in global affairs? And if so, does it even matter if Americans still need to be convinced that US engagement in the world is vital? Daalder speaks with Ian Bremmer on the GZERO World podcast.

Subscribe to the GZERO World Podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, or your preferred podcast platform to receive new episodes as soon as they're published.

Jon Lieber, Managing Director of the United States for the Eurasia Group, shares updates on recent policy developments:

With the Supreme Court's recent decision, is the Affordable Care Act here to stay?

Yes, this was the Court's third ruling on the Affordable Care Act upholding its constitutionality. This challenge was brought by Republican attorneys general who argued that the repeal of the individual mandate tax undermined the court's previous justification for allowing the law to stand. They were unsuccessful, yet again. And the political salience of the Affordable Care Act has really diminished in the last several years, with Republicans moving on to fight other issues and the Court signaling very strongly they don't want to get involved in overturning this piece of legislation. The Affordable Care Act will be here at least until Congress wants to legislate on it again.

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Iranians head to the polls on June 18, in what's widely perceived to be a foregone outcome. Analysts predict that popular disillusionment with Iran's political class will make this one of the lowest turnout elections in Iran's post-revolution history. According to one poll taken by the Iranian Students Polling Agency, as few as 42 percent of the eligible voting population is expected to show up. We take a look at contemporary Iran's demographics, and how this year's vote turnout might compare to previous elections.

Latin America needs vaccines: The World Health Organization has called on the G7 countries that pledged to donate a billion COVID vaccine doses to the developing world to prioritize Latin America, with WHO officials pointing to the fact that out of the top 10 countries with the highest COVID death tolls per capita over the past week, nine are in Latin America, where many health systems are overstretched and vaccines are scarce. This call comes as Latin America's COVID death toll has surpassed 1 million. Cases and deaths are soaring in Argentina and Colombia, for instance, while Brazil has fully vaccinated just 11 percent of its population despite recording the world's second highest death toll. Even Chile, which has carried out Latin America's most successful vaccination campaign to date, has been forced to delay reopening due to a recent surge in infections among unvaccinated younger people. The WHO says prioritizing the region for vaccine donations makes sense in order to stop large sustained outbreaks that may spur potentially more infectious COVID variants that'll cross borders and wreak havoc in populous states. Most of the donated shots will be distributed through the COVAX facility, which is a problem for countries like Venezuela, shut out from COVAX because of payment problems.

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3: China has launched three astronauts into orbit in its first space mission since 2016. The astronauts will spend three months aboard the country's new space station, demonstrating China's resolve to become a space power following successful earlier missions to collect soil samples on the Moon and land a wheeled robot on Mars.

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