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After Tulsa: Time for GOP to champion police reforms

(AP Photo)

(AP Photo)

It’s possible for Republicans and conservatives to both defend America’s law enforcement community and to champion law enforcement reforms — and it needs to happen now. It needed to happen years ago.

The most recent shooting in Tulsa, Okla., taken at face value without full facts, appears to be an obvious case of police brutality; an officer shot an unarmed black man named Terence Crutcher. He actually had his hands up and was shot for little explainable reason. Crutcher was a father of four traveling home from class. The video is tough to watch.

We don’t have to go through the rather long list of recent cases when unarmed Americans have been killed to realize something needs to change. Now, many point out that in some of the most prominent cases, the facts haven’t matched the social media narrative. This isn’t likely to be the case in Tulsa, and it certainly hasn’t been true overall. It’s actually sadly ironic that Tulsa hasn’t gotten nearly the same amount of attention as other shootings.

The point is, you don’t have to agree with everything the #BlackLivesMatter movement says or does to believe that we need reform. Now, what does reform mean?

Here are a few ideas to start:

-Provide police with more non-lethal weapons to disarm suspects. Encourage more use of these tools. Stun guns fail too often, which force police to become too reliant on their guns. More use of rubber bullets, beanbag guns, and pepper spray would make sense. Why couldn’t Crutcher have been disarmed another way, if police truly thought he was reaching for a weapon?

-More cameras. A big reason we know about what happened in Tulsa was the cameras that grabbed the footage. Cameras need to be more universal. This doesn’t just protect people, but it also protects good police officers falsely accused of wrongdoing.

-Provide more resources for officer training to disarm versus discharge their firearm. Funding for training can be hard to come by for local departments. This type of funding needs to be a priority at all levels of government.

Maybe better ideas than these exist from experts in the field, but either way, Republicans need to be talking about these ideas or similar ones. Police are tired of having their images tarnished by these occurrences. It makes building relationships harder in their communities. That’s why reforming policing isn’t anti-cop, and the GOP shouldn’t be afraid to take up this topic on the national stage.

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