Saturday, July 4, 2020


Moab, UT

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    How do local policing policies compare to proposed reforms?

    Directives more flimsy than some activists want

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    Moab City Police Chief Bret Edge takes a knee during a Black Lives Matter protest in Moab earlier this month. Photo by Carter Pape

    Amid Black Lives Matter protests following the death of George Floyd in Minnesota, a movement to effect eight immediate reforms of police departments has become a lightning rod for reformists seeking immediate changes to police departments, and others seeking more radical changes than mere reform and defenders of police tactics who argue little to no changes are needed.

    The entity that created the #8CANTWAIT project, Campaign Zero, released an apologetic statement in early June acknowledging that the project “unintentionally detracted from efforts of fellow organizers invested in paradigmatic shifts that are newly possible in this moment.”

    The campaign has since shifted to promoting more transformative changes to policing in the United States, such as reallocating funding away from policing and instead toward housing, education, restorative justice and social services.

    Nonetheless, the eight reforms represent changes that law enforcement officials can make immediately, amending policies that are within their purview to change without the need for changes in funding. Campaign Zero also said the policies are backed by research that shows each of the eight reforms “can reduce killings by police and save lives.”

    The Times-Independent compared the Grand County Sheriff’s Office policies, recently posted for ease of access on the Grand County government’s website, to the #8CANTWAIT reforms to see where the policies align and where they do not. The newspaper applied the same analysis to the Moab Police Department’s policies, also publicly posted in recent days on the city’s website.

    The reviews found that most of the reform proposals are not already a part of local policing policies. The differences mostly related to existing language of recommendations and qualifications versus proposed language with less ambiguity and specificity.

    For example, whereas the #8CANTWAIT project calls for officers to always provide verbal warning before using deadly force, the sheriff’s office recommends warnings in such circumstances, and only “where feasible.”

    Note that policy references included in these analyses are primarily excerpts, not full quotations. Parentheticals have been added for clarity.

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