Police departments can either continue serving as a tool to control our communities, or our communities can take control of the police. Whether the demand is for defunding, demilitarization, or abolition, every police department, every police policy, every dollar spent on law enforcement, and every officer, chief, and superintendent should be subject to the will of the people, not the other way around.
The only way to ensure that the disjointed pleas for justice, accountability, and transparency can be backed by the power needed to make them possible is through democratic control of police through a directly-elected civilian council. This is not another "oversight", "review", or "accountability" board that just answers to the city, fettered by conflicting interests and powerless to do more than provide advice. Community control means severing a cornerstone of power from those who have used the police to terrorize and oppress Black, Puerto Rican, Chicano/Mexicano, Indigenous, and other oppressed communities.
What does Community Control require?
The idea of community control was formulated by the Black Panthers as a strategic measure to fight back against racism and white supremacy in the US.
Community Control means:
- A directly-elected all-civilian council
- Final authority over police policy, oversight policy, and budget, including writing and reviewing
- Full authority on disciplinary measures and legal recourse, including subpoena power and the convening of grand juries
- Hiring and firing power over the police chief or superintendent, all officers on the force, the head of any existing oversight or review boards and offices, and the members of those.
- Full access to all investigations by the oversight or review institutions
- Broaden the scope of investigations to include all allegations of misconduct, including sexual assault
- Negotiation on police union contracts
- Exclude all current and former law enforcement agents from serving on the board
Cities Fighting for Community Control
Salt Lake City, UT
Organizations Demanding Community Control
Movement for Black Lives (M4BL)
National Alliance Against Racist & Political Repression (NAARPR)