Since George Floyd’s death last May, dozens of states and local governments have changed their laws about police behavior. And yet police officers continue to kill about three Americans each day on average, nearly identical to the rate of police killings for as long as statistics exist.
Which raises the question: Are the latest efforts to change policing — to make it less violent, especially for Black and Latino Americans — destined to fail?
Not necessarily, many experts say. They believe the recent changes are meaningful. They will probably fall well short of solving the country’s problem with needlessly violent police behavior. But the changes still appear to be substantial, even if they will take some time to have a noticeable effect.
“You actually can get a lot of common ground between police critics and police themselves,” Rosa Brooks, a Georgetown University law professor and former reserve police officer in Washington, told us. “There are plenty of places where those conversations seem to be occurring in a preliminary way.”
wrote last week on Twitter: “No more policing, incarceration, and militarization. It can’t be reformed.”) Recent polls show that most Americans say they generally trust the police, and few if any mayors, governors, congressional leaders or top members of the Biden administration share Tlaib’s view.
But many politicians and most voters do favor changes to policing, like banning chokeholds and racial profiling or mandating police body cameras. “Americans — both Democrats and Republicans — want some sort of reform,” Alex Samuels of FiveThirtyEight wrote.
21 additional cities now require officers to intervene when they think another officer is using excessive force.
The changes have mostly been in Democratic-leaning states, but not entirely: Kentucky has limited no-knock warrants, which played a role in Breonna Taylor’s death, while Indiana, Iowa and Utah have restricted neck restraints. (Republican legislators in some states are pushing bills that go in the other direction, by strengthening penalties for people who injure officers, for instance, or by preventing cities from cutting police budgets.)