Gentles Calls for Swift, Real Action to Align Non-Discriminatory Public Safety with the True Meaning of “Protect and Serve”
“It’s time to channel anger into action and usher in a new era of police practice and accountability”
(June 12, 2020) – Karl Gentles today endorsed the Justice in Policing Act introduced by House and Senate Democrats on Monday. While Gentles opposes defunding police departments, he calls for a reallocation of funding priorities within departments to ensure what happened to George Floyd, Dion Johnson, Breonna Taylor, Sandra Bland, Javier Ambler, and countless other African Americans, does not happen again. Read Karl’s statement on the killing of George Floyd.
“It’s been a trying and emotional couple of weeks for our country. We have seen people from EVERY walk of life across the country come together organically and demand action, unlike anything we have seen since the Civil Rights Movement. It is clear our government systems are broken and the institutions that are supposed to serve and protect us must be held accountable. We must seize the moment to make lasting and important reforms to our policing and criminal justice system. These reforms cannot be paper tigers. I believe this agenda outlines the right first steps to get us there,” said Karl Gentles.
The Justice in Policing Act calls for prohibiting chokeholds, creating a national registry that tracks police misconduct, banning certain kinds of no-knock warrants, and lowering the legal standards for pursuing criminal and civil penalties for police misconduct. The bill essentially creates a higher national standard for police. Gentles said he would take it a step further and ban officers from using any technique that restricts the neck—not just a chokehold. Additionally, there must be consequences once an officer is placed on the national registry, directly impacting compensation and promotion opportunities or future employment with other departments.
“I support the overwhelming number of women and men in uniform who are doing a good job. I also support real, substantive, actionable, and accountable change and reforms that will make our communities safer and stronger for all. An alternative to defunding the police is reallocating the funding to an outside agency to go through training and demonstrate proficiency in areas such as implicit bias, racial stigmatization, de-escalation, and mental health awareness. These reform measures can make a difference; however, some recommendations including banning shooting at moving vehicles or warnings before shooting are good in theory but may not be practical. Most importantly, changing police culture is the central determinant of long-term effective reform. The challenge will be how we move some of these policy recommendations from theory to reality,” said Gentles.
Gentles also recommended the following additional policies:
- Severely restrict claim and use of qualified immunity statutes to ensure that bad police officers and public employees are not protected for their bad behavior and judgment. This will make officers think closely about their actions.
- Require all police officers on the street to wear body-worn cameras that cannot be turned off while on duty.
- Release the names of all officers involved in shootings and their track records.
- Increase training in implicit and unconscious bias and racial stigmatization.
- Establish citizens review and oversight boards at the local level to monitor and hold accountable those sworn to protect and serve. An example is the City of Phoenix that just approved $3 million in funding for such oversight, which is a step in the right direction. All police departments, including those in Congressional District 6, should implement similar oversight.
- Provide greater latitude to police chiefs to terminate bad cops for egregious behavior. Today, it is very difficult to do so based on state statutes and the influence of unions.
- Reform civil service boards to make it more difficult to overturn a Chief’s decision to terminate an officer.
- Implement national qualification standards to become and to be retained as a police officer. We must take into consideration small and rural communities in this discussion, as their pool of qualified individuals is much smaller. Similar to doctors, we must hold police officers to a higher standard, require more training, and require disciplinary actions related to bad acts more than any other profession due to their direct impact on life.
- Require agencies to report all misconduct to their Post Boards with investigation requirements.
“It’s time to channel anger into action and usher in a new era of police practice and accountability with the dramatic changes needed to begin the process of healing our nation. These initiatives allow for swift actions that will have a major impact, and that’s exactly what our country needs right now,” said Gentles.
Karl Gentles is a Democratic Candidate for Arizona’s Sixth Congressional District (www.gentlesforcongress.com). His work over the past 35 years has shown he has the ability to get things done by bringing people together to solve Arizona’s most pressing problems. Gentles believes that by putting principles over politics, we can change the way government functions and ensure that it works for us and not against us. He brings a pragmatic, bipartisan approach to policy-making and will work to bring our economy back, strengthen our healthcare system, and protect seniors, families, and our most vulnerable populations. Gentles is a founder of a small business and also runs a nonprofit that has helped thousands of children in Arizona. His career includes working in the community and economic development, working for a U.S. Senator, and some of Arizona’s most iconic employers.