Is Citizen Design of Policing ‘Systemic Change’?


A lady I have been exchanging with on the concept of citizen design of policing referred to it as ‘systemic change.’ That is an expression which bothers me a bit. I responded as follows. I think it bears repeating:

“The expression ‘systemic change’ can sound scary. It hints of imposition.

The glory of citizen design of policing, as I see it, is that nothing is imposed. All the interested parties may be represented around the table. And all is consensually agreed.

Anger usually comes from fear. Very often, when we feel what we think is anger, it is not anger at what has happened, or even what is happening, it is fear about what is going to happen next.

The beauty of citizen design is that we all have equal input as to what will happen next. The only participants who need be scared are those who wish something they know their community will not accept.

People of good intent, with ideas of broad appeal and common sense, will be heard, whether police officer, citizen or elected official.

Anyone with misplaced attitude, ambition or agenda will simply be subsumed by well-meaning consensus.

It would be systemic primarily because it would be open to all in the ‘system,’ equally.

But there would be change only if a community willed it, and only as much as a community believed necessary.

The only people who need be scared are those who wish inequity maintained.

Now, a quick side issue. This is a process for finding solutions. Not for imposing punishment.

If you’re looking for punishment in respect of what you regard as injustice, then you will be in the wrong place. Whether that injustice occurred yesterday, last week, last year or 400 years ago.”

Meanwhile, as previously mentioned, I will be meeting with Carrboro Alderpeople, Damon Seils and Michelle Johnson this coming Saturday (January 3), at 10.30am, in the Looking Glass Cafe, to swap thoughts. If you’re around and about, you are welcome to sit down with us. No part of this is an exclusive process. I hope to meet with Carrboro Alderperson Randee Haven-O’Donnell at a later time.

I have read much in the past few weeks, a lot of it emanating from folks in what I previously thought of as my sleepy, artsy current hometown of Carrboro, NC. I was wrong. Clearly, there are problems with policing, even in Carrboro. Which only makes the need for solution that much greater.

And again, I do not think any solution will work if it is imposed by any one group of protagonists, be it the police, elected officials, or some body of citizenry. This is an issue that involves all of us. And the process of finding a solution should be open to all of us.

That is what citizen design of policing allows. It creates the space for all who are interested to come together to design a solution together, consensually.

Hopping back to this coming Saturday, if you can’t or don’t wish to join in the chat at 10.30am, the NAACP are hosting a Q&A with Chief Blue (Chapel Hill PD) and Chief Horton (Carrboro PD) at noon, this coming Saturday, at the Rodgers Road Community Center.


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