Adrienne Lawrence

Legal analyst, law professor & award-winning author

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Opinion

Reducing police oversight won’t solve trust issue

Jun 5

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Adrienne Lawrence

Legal analyst, law professor & award-winning author

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In Florida, Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis recently signed a bill into law limiting the power of some police review boards to “prevent law enforcement from being mistreated by the public.” While the bill does not eliminate citizen review boards altogether, it does impose restrictions on them. This and other similar legislative measures have drawn criticism from those who believe the police already lack sufficient oversight.

Watch the above video as Straight Arrow News contributor Adrienne Lawrence argues that, with nearly half of Americans believing police are not held accountable for misconduct, now is not the time to reduce accountability. Instead, Lawrence contends that increased oversight for police actions will lead to a more favorable public perception of law enforcement.


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The following is an excerpt from the above video:

This strategy of reducing police accountability is not only utterly preposterous, but it would do nothing more than further reduce public confidence in policing.

Foremost, the fact that fewer people want to join law enforcement is not a problem at all, no matter how many fear-mongering politicians and billion-dollar businesses try to claim that crime is ever-rising in terms of an epidemic.

Well, the numbers don’t lie. Data from both the FBI and the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics show dramatic declines in U.S. violence and property crime rates, and it’s been dropping since the early 1990s. Violent crime fell 49% between 1993 and 2022. That’s per FBI data, which also shows that 59% reduction in U.S. property crime over that same period. Not only are crime rates steadily declining, and have been for the past 20 years, consider that data sources have increased and collection methods have improved over that time.

So over the past two decades, the Feds have been gathering more data and processing it in a far more efficient way than back in the early 90s. So you would expect that crime rates have increased, but no, they have not.


Interested in opposing perspectives? Have a look at how our other contributors view this issue from across the political spectrum:

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Less than half of Americans trust the police. Gallup polls and other research surveys confirm that public confidence in police dipped in the wake of George Floyd’s murder back in 2020. And it is not rebounded since. Now it may appear that law enforcement as a profession is not suffering. But the consequences of All Time Low public support are being felt. As new reporting from the appeal confirms law enforcement is struggling to attract new recruits. More people simply do not want to sign up to be a first responder with a firearm. Now that’s despite the often six figure salary, near certain job security and strong union support that comes with being a member of law enforcement. But to address these perceived problems, well, leaders in policing and politics are now seeking to reduce police accountability, believing that less accountability would somehow entice more people to join the force. That’s right. They want to eliminate police oversight boards, such as what they recently sought to do in Florida with the House bill 601 hanging in the balance, and they also want to provide police with absolute immunity for civil rights violations, such as the House bill that was introduced by Louisiana Governor Jeff Landry earlier this year. This strategy of reducing police accountability is not only utterly preposterous, but it would do nothing more than further reduce public confidence in policing. Foremost, the fact that fewer people want to join law enforcement is not a problem at all, no matter how many fear mongering politicians and billion dollar businesses try to claim that crime is ever rising in terms of an epidemic. Well, the numbers don’t lie. Data from both the FBI and the US Bureau of Justice Statistics showed dramatic declines in US violence and property crime rates. And it’s been dropping since the early 1990s. Violent Crime fell 49% between 1993 and 2022. That’s per FBI data, which also shows that 59% reduction in US property crime over that same period. Not only are crime rates steadily declining and have been for the past 20 years, consider that data sources have increased and collection methods have improved over that time. So over the past two decades, the feds have been gathering more data and processing it in a far more efficient way than back in the early 90s. So you would expect that crime rates have increased, but no, they have not. And that’s because there are fewer crimes today than there were 20 years ago. Yet politicians and police officers have convinced so many members of the public that crime is out of control. As Pew Research Reports, in 23 of 27 Gallup surveys conducted since 1993, at least 60% of US adults believe there’s more crime nationally than there was the year before, despite the downward trend in crime rates during most of that period. All said we do not need more police as we have less crime. Regardless, increasing police does not necessarily decrease crime. A 2022 report published by the advocacy group catalyst, California, and also the ACLU of Southern California, found that police departments do not solve serious or violent crimes with any regularity. In fact, they spend very little time on crime control, yet policing budgets continue to skyrocket. All the while social interventions that have been proven to actually reduce crime are not being funded to the extent that they should. Researchers long known that investments that repair social disintegration counteract inequality and reduce poverty all help reduce crime. I didn’t need a researcher to tell me that really, if you give people the support that they need to support themselves, they’re less likely to turn to illegitimate means like crime. There was another 2022 study in the Quarterly Journal of Economics that looked at the lives of those who were cut off welfare when they turned 18. It found that a majority of the crimes those individuals committed focused on generating income, like theft, burglary, fraud, forgery, prostitution, if lawmakers want to reduce the already declining crime rate, they should be looking to increase social support services. They seem to have no problem cutting welfare checks to bail out billion dollar companies, that all really failed due to greed. So why not do what’s necessary to uplift people. So to reduce the number of those who turn to crime altogether? We do not need more police as they do not reduce crime and crime is not increasing. Even if that were not the case. However, the proposed solution of reducing police accountability To somehow increase police recruitment is also bunk. There’s a direct and high correlation between perceptions of police accountability and favourability toward the police. Per researchers at the Cato Institute. Americans who believe the police are held accountable for misconduct, or 35 points more favorable toward the police than those who doubt police are brought to account. So people like the police more when the police are actually held accountable. Reducing accountability would mean people will like the police less. So if people disliked the police, it’s logical to conclude that people would be reluctant to be among the recruits. It seems lawmakers and law enforcement should be thinking a lot less about reducing police accountability, and focusing a lot more on being effective public servants.

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