Judge gavel and scale in court. Legal concept (copy) (copy)

Americans were deeply saddened by the terrible images of George Floyd’s unjustified killing at the hands of those charged to serve and protect. As a result, people have united to seek change in every community. Peaceful protests and policy discussions have been dominating public discourse for weeks.

People everywhere are asking what they can do, and many potential solutions are being discussed. Right now, we have an opportunity to listen, consider solutions and present rational ideas to answer the calls for justice by our fellow citizens, friends, neighbors and ourselves.

Our duty to respond is best fulfilled first and foremost through our houses of worship and secondly by reforms to law enforcement. We must advance policies that limit governmental power and increase individual opportunity. Those objectives are best achieved by pushing for government transparency and fighting abuses of power.

Faith leaders and people of faith often shoulder the largest burden to push for societal change. Major reform and change in our nation has frequently started with people of faith, from the “Colonial Black Robe Regiment,” to the abolishment of slavery to the civil rights era of the 1950’s and ‘60’s. Pointing people to God and His justice centers our passions to concentrate on carrying out God’s message of peace, love and justice in our society.

The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King said it best when he said: “Injustice anywhere is injustice everywhere,” and has no place in a civil society.

Our nation was founded on equal justice under the law, but there are too many examples where laws have been used to oppress and diminish Black Americans. From our nation’s founding to Jim Crow or red-lining, it is sadly too easy to find examples where government and law have been used by those in power to withhold privilege and opportunity from those who do not have it.

The use of government to strengthen those in power is an abuse of power.

All people are endowed by God with certain unalienable rights; it is incumbent on all of us to seek opportunities to advance a society that takes these inequities into account. We must focus on creating communities that ensure equal justice under the law.

There are many reforms being bantered about in policy discussions today. Some of those ideas include eliminating qualified immunity for police, abolishing police unions that protect bad actors, transparency in labor negotiations so the public has input on police budgets and forcing police to have liability insurance to protect taxpayers from footing the bill for abusive cops. While there is no perfect solution, rational ideas are coming forward to change the culture of law enforcement.

Some communities are having discussions about abolishing police departments. This notion is irrational. The very basic core function of government is to provide public safety for citizens. Governments could privatize every single government department, but if they do not have public safety, it all falls apart. This idea of abolishing police departments deserves scorn and ridicule for defying logic.

During these trying times, we must also be mindful that the vast majority of law enforcement officers are doing things by the book. They are laying it on the line day in and day out to protect our communities. They truly walk a thin blue line between civility and chaos.

A Culpeper town councilman and a Republican, Jon Russell founded and is the national director of the American City County Exchange, an affiliate of the American Legislative Exchange Council. His views are his own.

(1) comment

Michael McLamara

Well said about revising the police departments to remove inequality and racist actions. The next most negative systems which cripple and defy the minority and particularly black citizens in this country are the public school systems. The same changes to the systems and their unions that we need to apply to the police are necessary if we are going to finally reduce the second most destructive part of our societies systemic racism.

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