(Soft electronic music) - [Reporter] I'm curious, what is the first thing that comes to mind when you see this picture?
- That's a hero.
- A crime fighter.
- To help people.
- Like I'm gonna be in trouble.
- So what's the first thing that comes to mind when you see this picture?
(tense classical music) (paper ripping) - Hands up!
- Don't shoot!
- Hands up!
- Don't shoot!
- [Reporter] Americans have very different feelings when it comes to law enforcement.
And those very different feelings are wrapped up in our demographics.
- Somewhat unsafe, I guess.
- [Reporter] How do you feel?
Cato Institute reports that 68 percent of Caucasians feel favorable towards police, while only 40 percent of African Americans do.
Other deciding factors are how old you are and how much money you make.
- I'm a little worried.
What did I do wrong?
- [Reporter] Why the difference in opinion?
Well, that has a lot to do with those groups' different experiences with the police.
One statistic that stands out is that black men age 15 to 34 are between 10 and 16 times more likely to be killed by police than other people.
Why are so may young black men disproportionately killed by law enforcement in the United states?
The fear of black men that goes deep into fear of the slaves and it's understandable why you'd be fearful of slaves.
The very nature of slavery tends to provoke rebelliousness.
So, I think it's deep in the memory banks of the country.
- [Reporter] Although opinions on police are split, we know there's no entire demographic that's anti-law enforcement since nine in 10 Americans oppose a decrease in police officers in their community.
An overwhelming majority believe that we should take measures to reform our police system including 89 percent of people who believe the police should be equipped with body cameras and 79 percent who believe there should be independent investigations of police misconduct.
Adding to the already complicated debate is a lack of consistency in state and local police practices across the country.
In the United States, our police departments are not all uniform.
In fact, there are about 18,000 different police agencies in our our country with their own policies, procedures, and training.
- And I think its vital that we recognize that we have a million cops in this country, they're not all gonna conform to a model of how we think every police officer should be.
- Which leads us to our main question: if we were to make America from scratch today, should our federal government increase regulations on our country's police departments?
- It has happened again.
Just nine days after the uproar in Ferguson, a grand jury in New York City has refused to indict yet another white police officer.
- The Minnesota police officer who shot and killed Philando Castile just last year during a traffic stop has been found not guilty of manslaughter.
- They determined that no probable cause exists to file any charge against Officer Wilson in return to no true bill on each of the five indictments.
- My son loved this city!
This city killed my son and the murderer gets away!
(tense ringing) - [Reporter] On the other hand, the majority of Americans see increased criticism of the police as an attack on public servants.
61 percent of Americans say there is a war on police.
As the country has hotly debated policing in the U.S., the issue has turned political.
- These are tough times to be a cop.
Outside Atlanta, Friday, officers from around the country mourned on of their own.
- While the war on police continues to rage on, five police officers have been killed in the line of duty just this week alone.
- [Reporter] So, we reached out to the St. Paul Police Department for an interview, and they turned us down.
A lot of the police have been distrusting in the media, so they turned down our repeated requests for interviews.
- If you had to use one word right now to describe the relationship between the public and the police force?
- [Officer Far Left] I would say skeptical.
- [Officer In Middle] I'd say strained.
- [Officer Far Right] Misunderstood.
- So, we finally got an interview with law enforcement and here we are at the Inver Grove Police Department and we're gonna interview Police Chief Paul Schnell.
Do you believe that there's a war on police right now?
- [Schnell] I think many people in the profession would say that that's the case.
I don't believe that that's the case, I don't think that there's a war on police.
I hate that feeling when I know people are like super, super afraid of me.
- [Police Officer] Don't pull it out.
Don't pull it out!
(gunshots firing) - [Police Officer] Put your hands up!
Put them up!
- [Reporter] I know a lot of people say what the problems are, what the issues are with the policing system, but my question is how do we solve them?
- Body cams are absolutely essential, I think to the reform effort, independent investigation and that funding, and independent over site of policing also essential.
- [Reporter] Today's national standard of police use of force was set by the Supreme Court case Graham v. Connor in 1989.
When the court ruled that police use of force must be objectively reasonable and that it is to be determined by the point of view of a reasonable officer on the scene.
Any further regulations of when police can use lethal force must be left to the states.
However, a 2015 report my Amnesty International found that every U.S. state plus Washington D.C. Fails to comply with the United Nations basic principles on the use of force and firearms.
- Yep, so here we are just three years out from the of our Deadly Force Report of 2015 and unfortunately no state has yet presented the level of international standards on how they choose to assess lethal force by police.
So, it's important that for a state's Use of Force law in order to even be considered near the threshold of that or, we hope, going in that direction.
The laws hold officers to an accountability standard in which they're restricted to use force or to believe they should be able to kill someone unless it's absolutely necessary and that they're responding to whatever incident in a way that's proportional.
- [Announcer] Let's set national standards for policing.
18,000 police departments, one Constitution.
Every single officer in this country is bound by that Constitution.
So, we need reasonable, job-related, non-discriminatory standards that would bind every officer to the same practices when it comes to Stop and Frisk, laws of arrest, rules of evidence, and, Lord knows, use of force.
And particularly lethal force.
- Some lawmakers in California have already started thinking about how to address the issue.
This year, they introduced a bill known as The Police Accountability and Community Protection Act which changes language about reasonable force to necessary force.
- The bill unfortunately doesn't meet international standards, but we think it's an incredibly genuine first step towards that.
- The lawmakers who support the legislation hope it would remove undue legal cover for police officers involved in fatal shootings while allowing for the use of lethal force when necessary.
- Our primary hope is that it would change the way the officers understand their role and that they ought to be more restrictive as to when they use force, it shouldn't be as permissive.
And that the use of lethal force standards that are outlined in national law are not only about protecting those individuals, but the officers themselves.
So, I think it's perfectly reasonable for one to assume that no one should attempt to take a life unless the purpose is to save one.
- [Schnell] Those types of repeated incidents actually make it less safe to do our job.
The thing for me is, how do we create and build connections in the the places where we have the least amount of trust?
I wish, I would want people to believe that the worst that's gonna happen is maybe you get ticketed.
- So, Norm, you were a police officer for 34 years, and you're the former police chief of Seattle.
I'm curious at what point in your career did it lead you to believe that our policing system needs to be reformed?
- [Stamper] Well, you're gonna take me down memory lane here and it's a painful memory.
14 months into the job, I walked into the county courthouse in San Diego where I was originally a police officer.
And I went up to the prosecutor and I said, "You probably wan to dismiss this case."
And he said, "Well, why would I do that Officer Stamper?"
And I said, "Well, I arrested him for being drunk in a public place, unable to care for yourself or the safety of others.
Except that he wasn't drunk."
So, this prosecutor did not take kindly to my explanation that this guy used profanity and called me a pig of all things and I arrested him.
And the biggest favor of all was the prosecutor who asked me if the Constitution of the United States meant anything to me.
It jolted me, I mean truly shocked me.
Lord knows how much additional damage I would have done had that prosecutor not done what he did.
From that point on, I really did believe early in my career, the police in America belong to the people, not the other way around.
- [Nimt] The police are a part of the community itself Hopefully I envision a time where as humans we can live in a society where we can have much more solidarity.
- What do you want people to feel when they see police officers?
- I want people to feel like, "Maybe I was going too fast, maybe I was..." but that they're a community resource.
(Uplifting piano music) (Basketball bouncing) Crowd cheers) - So what do you think?
Do you think we should have stricter regulations on lethal force?
Do you think there is a war on police?
What would you change about the way our law enforcement operates in our country?
That's it everybody, that is season one!
Thank you so much for watching.
To check out more content on this thought experiment, go to rewired.org and be sure to share this so that we can come back.
We want to see y'all again.
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