MICHIGAN - The Schoolcraft College Diversity Committee and the Michigan United Faith in Justice team hosted a presentation and conversation on best practices in community policing Thursday evening with Dr. Lorenzo M. Boyd, Ph.D. The University of New Haven professor used his 14 years of experience with the Suffolk County sheriff’s department to offer solutions to problems of police abuse and accountability that are on everyone’s mind today.
Dr. Boyd recalled similar conversations he’d had with police departments and community members. “When I say ‘Black lives matter’ they shout ‘all lives matter’. Do they? Because ALL lives can’t matter until Black lives also matter,” Boyd said. “So if you can't bring yourself to say ‘Black lives matter’, then there’s a problem in this conversation.”
He pointed out that the Black Lives Matter movement is not anti-police. Boyd pointed out that its formation grew out of the killing of Trayvon Martin in 2012. He was gunned down by George Zimmerman during his neighborhood watch despite being told by police not to confront Martin. “Zimmerman was not a police officer.” Boyd said. “It was a citizen on citizen crime.”
The first thing Boyd recommends we do to build bridges between the police and community is to acknowledge the pain such incidents create and the trauma of their frequency and repetition. “There’s a lot of people out there hurting. But it’s funny when people tell us you have to get past that now,” Boyd said. “But we have to remember the Alamo. We have to remember 9-11. So your pain we have to hold in high esteem but our pain we have to forget.”
Boyd issued a call to action that we all become actively anti-racist rather than quietly non-racist. “Silence often looks like complicity,” he said.
Boyd sees the call to “abolish the police” as an oversimplification. He says upwards of 90% of policing is reactive and recommends that some of this reactive money be put into proactive programs. The city of Los Angeles did this with $250 million from their police department, which sounds like a lot until you consider that their annual budget is $1.8 Billion. New York city spends $11 billion on policing, about 80% is spent on salary and benefits. 20% of that is overtime. Boyd recommends taking half the overtime money and reinvesting it in combating the reasons for it.
“Let’s decertify the police and make them reapply for the jobs based on community standards,” Boyd said. This was done in Camden, NJ in 2013, changing it from one of the most dangerous cities in the country to one of the safest. It was also done in Jennings, MO in 2011. “One of the officers who didn’t get his job back was Darrin Wilson, who went to the Ferguson police department where he ended up killing Michael Brown.”