The combination of the 1967 Task Force Report and the 21st Century Policing report gave me a lot of insights into the problem of police reform. Both aims to improve the general level of services provided by the police force to the general public, yet they are extremely different in terms of how they are structured. The 1967 report mainly articulates the point of better education for the police officers in order to ensure better services, but the other report gave numerous proposals on many aspects related to the police, and did not involve a single highly articulated point.
The solutions proposed by the 1967 report results in both successes and failures. When the general educational level of the police officers rises, we could see the general satisfaction level of the public rise, which is indicated by the lower number of complaints against police officers with higher educational levels. On the other hand, highly educated police officers are causing troubles for the police department itself as many choose to resign after seeing no career future as a policeman. The 21st Century Policing report proposed numerous unimplemented proposals, and therefore we still cannot foresee the possible outcomes. However, since most of its solutions are too ideal to be implemented fully in real life, it would be highly unlikely for it to produce any good results.
With the contents of these two reports in mind, I also took an attempt to ponder upon the problems related to the current policing strategies and summarized my proposal and its rationale below.
The current policing strategy is highly based on the philosophy of deterring minor offense offenders from becoming major offense offenders, like those theories explained in the Broken Window Theory, the police are extraordinarily active in trying to arrest people who have committed minor crimes. Some non-violent crimes, like crimes related to drugs, would also result in severe punishments for people who commit it. The result is a significant number of people are currently spending their days in the US prison, with no or minimal chance of coming back to the society. It also results in bad police-community relationship as way too many citizens are annoyed by the frequent police intervention in their daily lives.
Instead, what the police can do is to stop chasing those minor offenders and keeping bothering them in life. Instead of arresting them, they can act as educators who can correct their behaviors when catching them on the spot. By recording their personal information, policemen can also arrest those minor offenders who frequently commit such crimes. This act would leave those common people who occasionally make a small mistake out of the constant bothering from the criminal justice system. At the same time, it would also send those frequent offenders who pose a real threat to the society to the jail. By implementing this strategy, the police department would also not feel obliged by the excessively high caseloads, which they usually get under the current philosophy.
The key for such a strategy to work is to apply severe, and even more harsh punishments then current ones, for offenders of major crimes. This aims to ensure those offenders of minor offenses would not easily become major crime offenders. Many countries in the world have adopted similar strategies. Countries like Singapore and China are known for their severe punishments for major offenders, and relatively gentle punishments for people who commit minor crimes. Their results have proved to be much better than that of the United States.