Tom Butt
  E-Mail Forum – 2020  
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  National Campaigns for Police Reform Reach Richmond
June 7, 2020

There are multiple social media and email campaigns going on in response to police violence and the George Floyd killing.

8 Can’t Wait

First is the “8 Can’t Wait” campaign, explained in detail by Vox in  “8 Can’t Wait, explained.”

Officials across the country are desperate to take swift, concrete steps to respond to protests against police brutality. Campaign Zero, which emerged from the police protests in Ferguson, Missouri, has come up with ideas that could fit the bill: They don’t cost any money and could be implemented very fast.

The hashtag for the campaign, #8CantWait, is trending on social media. It’s been endorsed by Oprah and Ariana Grande, and DeRay Mckesson is talking about it everywhere from GQ to Fast Company to The Bill Simmons Podcast.

The ideas include conduct remedies like banning chokeholds, changing reporting systems for use of force incidents, requiring officers to intervene when they witness misconduct, and more.

Figure 1 – Source:

Police Use Of Force Policies currently lack basic protections against police violence

These policies often fail to include common-sense limits on police use of force, including: 

  1. Failing to require officers to de-escalate situations, where possible, by communicating with subjects, maintaining distance, and otherwise eliminating the need to use force
  2. Allowing officers to choke or strangle civilians, in many cases where less lethal force could be used instead, resulting in the unnecessary death or serious injury of civilians
  3. Failing to require officers to intervene and stop excessive force used by other officers and report these incidents immediately to a supervisor
  4. Failing to restrict officers from shooting at moving vehicles, which is regarded as a particularly dangerous and ineffective tactic
  5. Failing to develop a Force Continuum that limits the types of force and/or weapons that can be used to respond to specific types of resistance
  6. Failing to require officers to exhaust all other reasonable means before resorting to deadly force
  7. Failing to require officers to give a verbal warning, when possible, before shooting at a civilian
  8. Failing to require officers to report each time they use force or threaten to use force against civilians

I have received hundreds of mostly cut and paste emails from all over the country urging Richmond to adopt the eight recommended policies. The Eight Can’t Wait campaign is also confused with the “Obama Pledge,” offered by former President Obama through the My Brother’s Keeper Alliance.

Mayors and other City Council officials are uniquely positioned to introduce common-sense limits on police use of force. That’s why the My Brother’s Keeper Alliance is calling on mayors to commit to the following actions:

 your police use of force policies.
2. ENGAGE your communities by including a diverse range of input, experiences, and stories in your review.
3. REPORT the findings of your review to your community and seek feedback.
4. REFORM your community’s police use of force policies.

The Eight Can’t Wait campaign has report cards on cities showing how many of the polices have been adopted. Richmond’s report card showed only two, but it’s more complicated. See Richmond Already "8 Can't Wait" Compliant, June 4, 2020.

If Richmond were to adopt the eight polices verbatim, it could be done in one of three ways:

  • The chief of police could propose the policies, engage in “meet and confer” with the Richmond Police Officers Association, and subsequently adopt the polices.
  • The city manager could direct the chief of police to adopt the polices, and following “meet and confer, “ the police chief presumably would adopt the polices.
  • The Community Police Review Commission, either of its own volition or by direction of the City Council, could recommend policy changes to the chief of police, who after “meet and confer,” could adopt the polices.

Figure 2 - Source" Chapter 3.54 of the Richmond Municipal Code

Defund the Police Department

The second campaign has the objective of reducing or eliminating funding of police departments. There is a cut and paste email at I have so far received 135 emails from all over the country. This campaign is explained in the Vox article, “Growing calls to “defund the police,” explained.”

Amid the anti-police brutality protests across the country, a once-obscure slogan is gaining traction: Defund the police.

The Working Families Party, an institutionalized progressive movement anchored on the left flank of the Democratic Party, especially in New York, and the Sunrise Movement, a climate-focused left-wing youth organization, tweeted the call on May 31.

A three-word slogan is not a detailed policy agenda, and not everyone using the slogan agrees on the details. The basic idea, though, is less that policing budgets should be literally zeroed out than that there should be a massive restructuring of public spending priorities.

Unlike the 8 Can’t Wait campaign, the Defund the Police movement faces a lot of resistance. The Vox article goes on to say:

In Gallup’s annual polls of public confidence in institutions, “the police” rank high — below the military and small businesses — with ratings that soar above the Supreme Court, newspapers, Congress, or other entities that might check them.

Confidence in policing appears to be in gradual long-term decline, and Gallup does these polls every June, so we don’t yet know if the most recent unrest will change opinions. But historically, the police have been a potent force politically, which helps explain why police unions are politically powerful even as they take stands that tend to be at odds with the racially progressive views of the big cities where they often work.

Similarly, when Vox and Civis Analytics polled this question in the winter of 2018-2019, large majorities of Americans of all racial groups expressed a favorable opinion of their local police department and were supportive of the idea of appropriating money to hire more police officers and dispatch them to high-crime neighborhoods.

The people of Richmond are not growing disgusted with the police department. In fact, positive ratings of the police in the biannual Community Survey have climbed 32% since 2007, peaking in 2015 when popular Chris Magnus was still chief. Crime prevention, similarly, has gained support, rising 200% since 2007. Note that ratings of traffic enforcement have declined.

Figure 3 – Source:

Reducing crime and disorder remain the top priority of Richmond residents, as shown below from the 2019 Community Survey.

Figure 4 – Source: