Police Are Going On Strike. Should Anyone Care?
Mandatory Credit: Photo by MohammadJavad Jahangir / Shutterstock (10679373ax) Protesters confront officials with the Atlanta Police Department near an overnight police shot that left a black man dead in a Wendy restaurant. Atlanta police chief Erika Shields resigned after the shootout. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is investigating the shooting of Rayshard Brooks, 27, after a reported battle with officers using a taser at the end of June 12, 202. Protest against the death of Rayshard Brooks, Atlanta, Georgia, USA - 13 Jun 2020
Atlanta police officers across the city hosted a "disease" in protest last week after the Fulton County District Attorney filed charges against the two officers who shot and killed Rayshard Brooks. The Atlanta Police Department did not confirm how many people had reported sick, but confirmed "an above average number of officers absent". In three of the police agency's six zones, officers did not respond to calls, and many refused to leave their stations unless another officer needed help.
A similar scene happened in Buffalo, New York, where 57 officers left an elite police unit in protest after two officers were suspended for bumping an older man into a protest against police brutality. It is also rumored that in Philadelphia and New York City the police fall ill during protests and organize work slowdowns.
As protests against racist policing continue across the country, and the police are now being asked to invalidate and abolish the police - and officials are being punished for using deadly violence against civilians and brutalizing demonstrators - more and more of them in conversations to quit their jobs. In fact, the police are protesting the protests against them.
But what are police officers' protests for and what are they actually achieving, particularly given the ongoing national calls for the abolition of the police as a whole?
The police have organized slowdowns in the past to respond to institutional measures against them. As reported by The Daily Beast, local governments, when they act against the police for misconduct, particularly when these incidents are videotaped and go viral, "can feel like they are being punished if they follow orders in a manner that their superiors do have tolerated in secret. "In other words, they feel like scapegoats when they follow orders and then face public pressure to be held accountable.
Work slowdowns are generally organized to influence public opinion by the police. In a moment of national unrest in response to police brutality, a police-led protest may not be the best tactic for obtaining public support.
"It doesn't seem like a particularly well-thought-out strategy," Dennis Kenney, professor of criminal justice at John Jay College told Refinery29. “The idea is to express dissatisfaction with the way they perceive that they are being treated. This time, it seems to be a postponed activity. "
Kenney went on to explain that police-organized protests at the moment are "a different ball game from the perspective of their unions" because they are not focused on a labor dispute. Instead, the whole country is talking about the existence of these agencies. "It seems to defeat itself," said Kenney.
The police have organized strikes for various reasons and with different results in the past. Perhaps the most famous police protest was the Boston police strike in 1919, when 80 percent of the city's police protested the organization of a union. During the work stoppage, the city experienced further robberies.
Kenney described this as an effective strategy for this particular demand, but it does not fit into this current moment: first, because people worldwide are talking about abolition, and second, because the conversation about police brutality is not confined to a single region. Likewise, the debate over whether the police should have unions has increased within the American labor movement as more and more people wonder whether there should be a police force.
A recent police slowdown occurred in late 2014 when the NYPD protested after Eric Garner's death. The New York Police Department strangled Garner during an arrest, although the practice was banned in 1993. The department's slowdown in operations included officials who performed only essential tasks, such as responding to emergency calls. Officials refused to arrest or sentence people for minor violations, with total arrests falling 66 percent.
Criminologists Christopher M. Sullivan and Zachary P. O’Keeffe noted in a paper on the slowdown in 2014 that reports of serious crime also declined during this period. They also suggested that the lack of police activity could lead to a decrease in crime, which seems to be important in our present moment. The results of the study "imply that aggressive enforcement of minor laws leads to more serious crimes," particularly because such enforcement "disrupts community life," which leads to increased crime, Sullivan and O'Keeffe argued.
Perhaps some officials hope that answering calls is a lesson for the community that they actually need. In New York, for example, where people have been reporting an increase in fireworks every evening for several weeks: “The police don't respond to [them]. The idea is that people notice that the police are not there so you miss them and want them back, ”said Kenney.
But instead, communities across the country may instead think of new ways to respond to their needs that do not require policing, particularly since slowing down work is unlikely to do much to improve police authorities' public opinion. "For me, a slowdown is just fueling relationships, rather driving a wedge between the community and the cops," Corey Pegues, a former New York City police detective, told The Daily Beast.
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