Rachel Harmon on Policing | Conversations with Tyler Podcast Summary

Rachel Harmon on Policing | Podcast Summary

Rachel Harmon on Policing | Conversations with Tyler

In this enlightening conversation with Tyler Cowen, Rachel Harmon, a legal scholar specializing in police reform, delves into the intricate and multifaceted issue of policing in America.

She discusses the challenges of data collection, the role of body cameras, the potential benefits of department consolidation, and the impact of gender diversity in police forces.

Harmon also explores the role of the Department of Justice, the potential for higher educational standards for police forces, and the need for a shift in focus from arrests to serious crimes.

The Impact of Gender Diversity

While communities value diverse police departments, diversity is not seen as a solution to problems in policing.

The idea that if the police force were half women, cases of violent aggression might fall significantly is discussed, but it is pointed out that police officers and regular people are not similarly situated with respect to violence.

The Role of the Department of Justice

The Department of Justice should have the right to file suit against Police Departments for patterns and practices of unconstitutional conduct.

These lawsuits have substantial costs and have not always resulted in lasting reforms, but they have been important symbolically and practically, signaling the federal government’s commitment to civil rights and setting national standards.

The Need for Higher Educational Standards

While slightly older police officers tend to be better in certain respects, and education is often associated with age, we cannot select our way out of problems in policing.

Some selection against problematic officers is possible, such as screening out those who have committed misconduct in the past.

The Importance of Shifting Focus

The current system incentivizes arrests, even above prosecutions, which doesn’t necessarily protect public safety and can increase harm.

The focus should be on arresting serious crimes rather than minor offenses.

I don’t think that we can select our way out of problems in policing. – Rachel Harmon

The Demand for Accountability

There is a need for better accountability in policing.

This includes setting standards that reflect the full costs and benefits of policing, ensuring that officers are responsive to these standards, and that they face consequences when they do not meet these standards.

The Debate on Police Salaries

The idea of increasing police salaries to attract higher quality officers is discussed.

While reducing salaries can lead to a decrease in quality, it is uncertain whether increasing salaries would necessarily lead to an improvement in the quality of policing.

The Role of Social Workers in Policing

Some aspects of policing could be better handled by social workers, who are trained to deal with people in crisis.

Prioritizing the health and well-being of police officers is also important, as officers who are overly stressed or hurt are more likely to hurt others.

The Issue of Sexual Assault by Police

Sexual assault by police is more common than the public realizes and is often difficult to report and prove.

There is a need for thorough investigations and accountability in these cases.

Common Misconceptions about Policing

A common misconception among law students about policing is that it’s all about constitutional law.

The law plays a critical role in setting standards and considering the costs and benefits of policing, suggesting that a broader understanding of the law is necessary for effective police reform.

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