At a crossroads
People like Derek Chauvin need to be kept out of law enforcement. When they manage to elude safeguards with that as a goal, they need to be identified and booted out of the profession.
And when law enforcement brutality does occur, it simply must be punished swiftly and severely.
All that is as obvious to the overwhelming majority of police officers, sheriffs’ deputies and others involved in law enforcement as it is to other Americans.
Chauvin, of course, is the ex-Minneapolis officer who has been charged with murdering George Floyd. Three other former members of the Minneapolis force have been charged with lesser offenses because they did not stop Chauvin from killing Floyd.
Chauvin’s callous, almost casual viciousness, seen on a widely circulated video, has united Americans to an extent seen very, very rarely. Shock, outrage, burning anger and a demand that something be done about people like Chauvin are common reactions to the video.
Now what? This is not the first time there have been calls for law enforcement reforms. And, though there have been some attempts at that, they have not been adequate.
Some city councils already have taken action such as banning use of choke-holds by law enforcement officers. Legislators in many states have discussed more sweeping reforms.
In Ohio, two lawmakers whose careers included stints in law enforcement are introducing a package of measures. They include finding ways to get more minority officers on police forces, creating a database of disciplinary action against law enforcement personnel, psychological examinations of those applying to enter the field, and changes in how complaints against officers and deputies are handled.
Similar ideas are being considered in many other states.
Of course, the legislative process being what it is, there has been debate over such proposals. Some think they go too far. Others argue they do not go far enough. Such disputes must not be permitted to delay or detail reforms. This time, something decisive must be done about the tiny minority of law enforcement personnel who are selective in their outlook toward serving and protecting.