Police Reform


Harper Treschuk

Fairfield PD has an oversight committee, appointed by the selectmen.

For quite a long time, the United States of America and many other nations around the world have had calls for police reform. The movement in the US has become increasingly influential due to the killing of George Floyd and similar innocent Black people by the police. Our nation seems stuck, unable to fully agree even that Black lives matter. 

Many have argued that reforms, specifically the removal of qualified immunity and increased oversight, would prevent officers from doing their jobs. For those who don’t know, qualified immunity is a doctrine that agents of the state, in this case police officers, cannot be charged without ‘significant legal precedent.’ Though this seems reasonable, qualified immunity has made it nearly impossible to convict cops of any crime, even if they are guilty.

Though progress has been made, in many places police are only overseen by the chief police (who has a clear bias against convicting one of their own cops), or a mayor who might be afraid or politically unwilling to convict any cops (particularly since President Trump has told police unions that they do not have to obey their mayors).

As a society, we have decided that police officers should be permitted to walk the streets armed with guns. There is disagreement about whether it is wise to allow armed police to patrol the streets, but armed police are a common practice in the US. This makes the lack of oversight on the part of many police departments absolutely terrifying. I would argue that any band of armed people, walking the streets, without oversight, is nothing but a gang.

Thankfully, the Fairfield Police Department does have an oversight committee, appointed by the selectmen, though it is unclear how much actual power they have in disciplining officers. Until recently, police officers had qualified immunity, even in cases where excessive force was judged to have been used.

Police officers are not only under supervised, but also overfunded to the point where they have become a hammer, and every problem looks like a nail. From mental health crises, to drug use, to homelessness, our system’s only response seems to be police force.

As a society, we have decided that armed police get to patrol our streets. Police oversight would increase police accountability and keep us all safer. Diverting funds from police departments to mental and public health resources, and training professionals to respond to mental health crises, drug use, and homeless people will decrease instances of excessive police force and allow people to get the help they actually need.