On May 23, 2023, the ACLU made a written submission to the UN International Independent Expert Mechanism to Advance Racial Justice and Equality in Law Enforcement (EMLER) on reimagining policing. The submission focuses on reducing the role of police, and outlines a new paradigm for community safety. It details the United States’ misplaced reliance on police to address public health and social problems, and it identifies U.S. jurisdictions that have implemented non-police responses to promote traffic and school safety, and alternative crisis response programs to serve people in behavioral health crisis. The submission puts forth a set of recommendations to reduce police departments’ role and presence. It proposes investing public resources in community-based, non-carceral services that are better suited to respond to community needs, including essential resources like mental health care, addiction services, housing, education, and employment opportunities. To achieve safety for everyone and to heal communities in the United States, the role of police as instruments of state control and violence must decrease, while becoming responsive and accountable to community will and legal norms. To significantly reduce police violence, we must create a new paradigm for policing and community safety that emphasizes non-carceral interventions and programs—not police, jails, and prisons—to keep communities safe and help them thrive.
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