Embracing Reform as a Response to Calls for Defunding the Police

Embracing Reform as a Response to Calls for Defunding the Police


In the last several months, calls to defund the police have increased, as has the backlash against these calls. But it is important to note that there is a common thread that connects both sides: “On all sides, in all directions, the debate over the future of policing remains a debate over safety, driven by communities who desperately, deeply want to feel safe.” In response, the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) calls for a “balanced, strategic approach to combating crime and prioritizing community safety…Effective, lasting change will require resources, commitment, and well-thought-out approaches.”


Many communities are moving quickly to attempt to mitigate the calls to defund police, by embracing opportunities to reform. One such campaign is “8 Can’t Wait,” supported by police departments in major cities such as Boston, Atlanta, and San Francisco. It outlines a detailed approach to policing when applying the Graham v. Connor use of force standard. According to Graham v. Connor,


“Because the test of reasonableness under the Fourth Amendment is not capable of precise definition or mechanical application, however, its proper application requires careful attention to the facts and circumstances of each particular case, including the severity of the crime at issue, whether the suspect poses an immediate threat to the safety of the officers or others, and whether he is actively resisting arrest or attempting to evade arrest by flight.”


However, in a high-pressure, fast-moving situation, it is impossible to slow down frame-by-frame in order to pay “careful attention to the facts and circumstances of each particular case” in the moment. Fast, life-changing decisions have to be made, even when all the facts aren’t clearly on the table. This requires extensive, ongoing training for law enforcement officers, and should include realistic training like MILO Range, used by law enforcement agencies all over the world, including in the police departments of Boston, Atlanta, and San Francisco.


Knee-jerk reform efforts can have opposite, unintended negative effects; therefore it is important to carefully assess and research prior to implementation. Simulation training has been shown to produce creative problem-solving in policing scenarios when officers are encouraged to be creative and given the opportunity to practice creative approaches to de-escalate in potentially violent situations, according to research conducted by Dr. Joy VerPlanck. MILO Range simulation training immerses officers in high-pressure, fast-moving scenarios where they can test new policies before rolling them out in the field.


By encouraging creative problem solving and embracing the opportunity to revolutionize training objectives, law enforcement agencies can rebuild trust within their communities and show that they have the same goals in mind: the safety of all stakeholders with the community. Including MILO Range training as an integral resource can help agencies facilitate effective, lasting change that ultimately prioritizes community safety.