The article by Michael Lee Pope, “Disproportionate Use of Force” (June 11, 2020), was most disturbing. I was angered by the story of the white police officer’s harassment of a black Alexandria citizen who was simply doing his job. How many other incidents of police racism and maltreatment of our black and brown community members do we not know about? It is time for the Alexandria Police Department to be transparent with its data and documentation, especially in reporting the use of force. Only then will we be able to hold police officers accountable for their actions. In addition, officers who exhibit behavior rooted in racism should not be part of our police force.
It is also time to assess the powers our city has given the police department; as many in our community have said, including the ACLU executive director who was interviewed in the article, we need to reconsider what we expect our police officers to do. Instead of allocating funds for them to be involved in policing problems that result from such areas as mental health, homelessness and economic need, drug addiction, and school behavior management, we should be using our resources to develop and invest in community-based solutions to these issues. We must help and protect our vulnerable populations rather than expand even further the often-destructive efforts to police them.