Police officers should be educated professionals
It is ridiculous to give guns to people who are not required to have professional education in their field. Teachers are not allowed to rough up students, and certainly not to shoot the kids. (Anyway teaching attracts people who want to protect the kids.) Law enforcement types who are given guns and allowed to used violence should have at least as much training as teachers. At the very least police officers should complete a college-level program that includes law, sociology, psychology and EMT training. One semester of psychology should include information about recognizing mental illnesses. There could be a specific course on community policing. Any currently employed officer who does not successfully complete required core courses within a specified time period should be terminated.
Grade-school teachers have to have bachelors degrees to work in public schools. Teachers are expected to be professionals and to continue their education throughout their professional careers. Teachers have to pay for most of this education and any certification exams out of their own pockets.
EMT training should be required for all new officers. This would put a focus on helping and saving people, not attacking them. Citizens are patients to care for when they are injured. The EMT training would not need to be a full associate degree, but should involve enough hands-on training to allow the new officers to assist injured people at accidents and crime scenes. Officers who get tired of being cops should have enough training that they could get work with a fire department or driving an ambulance.
Currently employed officers without any serious citizen complaints could be encouraged to complete EMT training on a voluntary basis. Any officer who wants career advancement would need to take EMT training. Any officer who is involved in a shooting of any kind or any incident that results in the death or hospitalization of anyone would be required to complete the EMT training within some reasonable period. The life the EMT-trained officers save could be their partner's.
Here are some of the courses required for an on-line associate degree in criminal justice. I just picked this program randomly, but clearly there are existing courses that could be required for professional policing. Other programs might be better suited, but police unions should not be allowed to choose the courses. Exams should NOT be proctored by anyone associated with law enforcement.
J100 Preparing for a Career in Public Safety 5
CJ101 Introduction to the Criminal Justice System 5
CJ102 Criminology I 5
CJ110 Introduction to Crime Analysis 5
CJ140 Introduction to Constitutional Law 5
CJ200 Fundamentals of Psychological Profiling 5
CJ233 Introduction to Forensic Psychology 5
CJ266 Deviance and Violence
Citizens from the community should be allowed oversight of investigations into police misconduct. Please share any suggestions about how this should be set up.
Local police departments and magistrates offices should not be able to keep money from fines and confiscation of property. The money should be sent to the state government and redistributed back to communities. This would prevent some of the more appalling local exploitation of poor communities.
Qualifications for magistrates and coroners need to be increased in some places, too. There is too much rubber stamping of the "Oh, he just tripped" BS. There needs to be some transparent way to remove magistrates who are unethical and/or incompetent. Coroners should have enough science background to understand an autopsy report. Actual autopsies should be done by qualified professionals. Lab work needs to be done by qualified individuals and completed in a timely way using standard quality control procedures.
These suggestions are intended as a starting point for thinking of laws and policies that could decrease the problem of violence perpetrated by police.