Bolster Montclair’s social services, not police (Letter to the Editor)
While listening to NPR’s “All Things Considered” (npr.org/transcripts/1152140576) show on police reform after the Tyre Nichols case, the interviewee Phillip Atiba Goff, CEO of the Center for Policing Equity and professor of psychology at Yale University, said that the No.1 recommendation for police reform is USE POLICE FOR LESS.
Goff says: “If my problem is I'm considering suicide, why is it that, in so many communities, the only person who can show up is someone with a badge and a gun, at best eight hours of training in mental health emergencies and whose decisions are, I'm going to maybe lock this person up; I'm going to maybe restrain this person; I might have to use force on this person if I feel threatened?”
We have been given police departments tasks they are not trained to handle. We have seen over and over again how traffic stops end up tragically. According to a 2022 The Guardian article, those situations amount to 600 killings since 2017 (theguardian.com/us-news/2022/apr/21/us-police-violence-traffic-stop-data).
If someone is unhoused, don’t send the police; give that person a place to live. If someone has a mental health crisis, don’t send the police; send social workers trained appropriately. If someone has a drug addiction problem, don’t send the police; refer that person to services.
Traffic stops should not be handled by police officers unless there is an emergency. Cities and towns should not increase police budgets; they should increase social services to reach equity and justice, working towards public safety for all.
Maria Eva Dorigo