Matt Sutton 212-613-8026
Washington, D.C. – In response to Trump signing an executive order today on policing, Maritza Perez, Director of the Office of National Affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA), released the following statement:
“While we are encouraged to see the president is acknowledging the issue of police reform instead of continuing to send federal officers to attack and surveil peaceful protestors as he was doing last week, this order simply doesn’t go far enough. Instead, it centers law enforcement and potentially gives more power and funding to them in the wake of these tragedies, which is not surprising given this administration has been rolling back police reforms and derailing policy attempts to address use of excessive force since day one.
The very idea that we would need to provide police departments with more federal funds in order to motivate them to adhere to non-lethal practices is incredibly problematic. And this doesn’t even address the fact that deadly police practices such as chokeholds and no-knock warrants wouldn’t even be completely eliminated. Federal funding for drug war-related policing and government transfer of military weapons to local police departments is what got us to this point to begin with.
And while expanding the role of social workers and support services may sound nice on the surface, doing it under the apparatus of the criminal legal system centers an inhumane punishment-first approach. This will only create more distrust from communities who have already experienced the adverse impact of law enforcement and surveillance in their lives for decades. In responding to substance use, social workers and community groups should be dispatched separately from police altogether. Substance use disorder services and harm reduction programs should be better funded and more accessible.
We must demand more. If Trump wants to call on Congress to finish doing the job, then so be it. We must ensure that any ‘reform’ put on the table actually begins to solve the kind of racial bias and militarized policing this country has been enduring for decades, and divests funds from law enforcement in favor of investing in community infrastructure and services. Congress must improve upon the Justice in Policing Act and expeditiously move on police reform.”