Two overshadowed vice presidential candidates briefly emerged into the media spotlight on Tuesday night. Their areas of agreement turned out to be more telling than their disagreements.
During tonight’s debate both vice presidential candidates said they support community policing. Pence, who took a question after Kaine, even had to premise his and Trump’s supposed support for it by telling his opponent, “At the risk of agreeing with you.”
Sounds good? That’s the problem with “community policing.” It sounds great. It means basically nothing.
As The Intercept previously reported, community policing that — as Kaine suggested tonight — aims to “build bonds” between law enforcement and communities of color, won’t fix the policing crisis this country faces. As members of the very communities most victimized by police abuse know all too well, knowing the cops walking their beats won’t stop them from getting killed by them. Having a say over how their police departments are run might.
True community policing is one that puts the community first, and not just in the occasional town hall meeting: giving civilians oversight over their police departments, including a say over legislation regulating law enforcement and access to serious accountability processes.
Until that happens, community policing will remain a catchphrase so empty and meaningless that even opposing candidates won’t have much to disagree about.