9 Actions on Police Reform

June 16, 2020

9 actions you can take today to learn about and address police violence in your communities

Recently, The Episcopal Church’s Executive Council passed resolutions addressing the issue of police violence and police reform, and reaffirmed General Convention Resolution 2018-A229, in which the Church “condemns the improper and violent actions of authorities against people of color." The Executive Council urges the Church to work for transformation of the criminal justice system at the federal, state, regional, and local level, including by enacting substantial police reforms.

Take action, joining with Episcopalians around the world, using the resources below:

  1. Write your members of Congress in support of legislation that include these needed changes. 
  2. Contact your state legislators to learn about reform efforts at the state level. States are working to enact major change and may be able to address specific issues you make them aware of. This can be done by visiting your states’ legislature page
  3. Learn about your local law enforcement: What is its jurisdiction? Who controls funding and provides oversight? What is the racial make-up of the police force? Do they live in the communities they serve? 
  4. Contact your local Mayor and Sheriff’s Office as well as your city council to ask them to implement policies to end police violence.  
    1. Example: The Greenville Citizen Advisory Panel on Public Safety was established by the mayor in response to calls from protest organizers, which they called #8CantWait recommendations. The panel will provide for a permanent community voice in policing oversight and is tasked with evaluating the implementation of use- of- force policies. 
  5. Engage in anti-racism training to better equip yourself for civic participation. 
  6. Attend “Reimagining Police: A 3-Part Series” by the Absalom Jones Episcopal Center for Racial Healing. Watch all three parts and more here. (Part three features OGR's Alan Yarborough and Rebecca Cotton speaking on disinformation)
  7. Learn about and connect with organizations working on police reform in your city and municipality.  
    1. Examples: The Minneapolis 911 Working Group and other organizations are working with city council members on the city’s budget to prioritize community initiatives on health and safety. The Georgia NAACP is supporting comprehensive reforms to the state legal code through protests, education, and advocacy in the state legislature.   
  8. Learn, Pray, Act Resources: for Addressing Racist Violence and Police Brutality 
    1. Act: Ferguson, MO, report on community-based efforts to hold law enforcement accountable  
  9. Engage in ongoing advocacy around social support services on access to food, homelessness, support for mental health, and other components of the social safety net that reflect the priority needs of communities.  See OGR Action Alerts on priority areas for support – especially to address systemic racism. 

The Episcopal Church continues to commit to addressing police violence and discrimination by advocating for alternatives to deadly force, taking action to eliminate racism, and supporting the civil rights of those who have disabilities in interactions with law enforcement. 

Beyond the immediate efforts of police reform, the Church has longstanding policy urging adequate investment in our communities, including investment in education, support for those facing homelessness or housing instabilityaccess to food, and making reforms to end the school-to-prison pipeline. These are all crucial aspects of dismantling systemic racism and ensuring that our communities are safe so all people are able to flourish.

Learn more:

Many police reform policies have already yielded positive results in some localities. For instance, community oversight of police departments has been shown to help bolster the public’s confidence in them, boost cooperation, and make communities safer for all.  For police departments that continue to use excessive force, federal oversight has been shown to reduce the use of force and compel police unions to accept changes to policing. Many cities and states are currently working to ban or severely curtail the use of chokeholds, particularly those that restrict breathing.