Whether or not he realized it at the time, McLay had crossed a line. It was a line drawn not by the Black Lives Matter activists who’d spoken out about the link between racial bias and police brutality throughout 2014. Rather, the line would be drawn by the police union representatives who would go on to spend much of 2015 denouncing seemingly any public statement that alluded to a need for changes in U.S. policing culture.
“The police union went crazy in denouncing [McLay],” said law professor and policing expert David A. Harris when Citylab spoke with him earlier this year. “They tried to make [McLay] the most hated police chief in America for the heinous crime of saying that he was against racism.”
Wasn’t 2015 supposed to be the year that things started to get at least a little bit better? For all the innovations local governments in the U.S. have been leading the way on—education reform, energy-efficient construction, smarter mass transit systems—law enforcement agencies have been using the same blunt instruments (batons, guns) and employing the same broken-windows methods for decades. Surely, with the spotlight firmly on policing at long last, reform could finally begin there, too.
But it didn’t happen in 2015. As noted in a recent meta-study on policing practices published in the journal Psychological Science in the Public Interest.
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