by Brian T. Lynch, MSW (and former civil servant)
The judges statistics and the goals being attempted in the reform are absolutely correct. Civilian oversight is a false term, however. The police are civilians. They are us. They are not solders or foreign peacekeepers. They are certainly not above the law. They work for their local community. They are civil servants who should have the same respect as most other civil services and no special privileges beyond the necessary latitude required to keep themselves safe on the job.
Statistically speaking, police work is not one of the top ten most dangerous jobs in the country. That isn't meant to downplay the significant risks they face, but those risks aren't excessive relative to other working men and woman. Police in other industrialized countries manage to keep police action homicides to levels well below 10 times the US numbers. Germany has a higher rate of police action homicides than other Western Europe countries. They average about 5 per year. Adjusted for population that means, if they were our size, there would be about 20 police action homicides per year. so there has to be room to improve our policing procedures.
While African-Americas are over represented in police action homicides (and this is a big concern of mine), the overall number killed, over 1,100 victims per year, is the bigger picture. Besides, most of the problems with departments are confined to particular areas or departments. The vast majority of departments are perfectly fine. The public should keep this in mind when talking about police reform and police officers shouldn't be painting reform advocates with the same broad brush either. Let's just admit the statistics prove we have work to do and get about the business of fixing this problem.
PS: Read the comments in this article.