Finding a harmony within our criminal justice system

Alyssa Ford, Contributing Writer

Last Tuesday, President Obama delivered a speech to the International Association of Chiefs of Police in Chicago, addressing the issues arising between the police force and minority community that have been surfacing in the past year. Staying true to his character, Obama made sure to balance the problem, making sure both perspectives on the matter were equally defended and criticized.

He defended the police force, saying, “In you, we often see America at its best. You don’t just protect us from each other, you build a foundation so that we can trust each other and rely on each other.”

Obama made sure to also state that, despite the important work the law enforcement engages in, there are still problems concerning the minority groups and that they are not to be put on the backburner.

Obama repeatedly discussed how often times, the police force are used as someone to blame, saying “too often, law enforcement gets scapegoated for broader failures of our society and our criminal-justice system”.

Although I agree that our criminal-justice system is certainly flawed, I can also understand why police would be subject to blame at times. With events like Ferguson, the deaths of Eric Garner, Sandra Bland and too many other innocent minorities who have been abused by the police, it is obvious that the public would feel unrest towards the police force.

Now, I am aware that those certain officers do not represent the police force as a whole, but their acts still leave a huge impact. Lately it seems there is another innocent black life lost due to unnecessary police brutality every day because an officer feels that they can abuse their power. There is a difference between using your authority to keep the community safe and using your authority just to prove you have it.

Obama speaks on this issue saying, “But you know as well as I do that the tensions in some communities, the feeling that law enforcement isn’t always applied fairly, those sentiments don’t come out of nowhere. There is a long history here in this country.” It is crucial that the police force work with the community and vice versa, if we ever want to find some sort of harmony.

In his speech, Obama called for reducing prison populations and working on entering the less violent substance abusers into rehab facilities to train them to reenter normal life. By offering aid to these troubled individuals, it would not only help them, but society as a whole. He also addressed the need for stricter gun control, which I think is extremely necessary.

It is far too easy for a criminal to buy a gun. As Obama stated, some areas make it easier for a young person to “buy a gun, than a book” which is an unsettling fact to say the least. Obama suggests putting a stop to this by requiring national criminal background checks for anybody wishing to purchase a gun, and not permitting the sale of military-style assault weapons to the general public.

With Obama soon retiring from office, I hope his reforms will be able to find their way into the criminal-justice system. These solutions need to be applied sooner than later because we have already suffered losses in both the police and minority communities too many times due to justice being served too late.