Commentary

State lawmaker provides starting list of necessary police reforms

Rep. Marcia Morey (D-Durham)

Be sure to check out the featured op-ed this morning on WRAL.com by Durham State Representative (and former Chief District Court Judge) Marcia Morey. The piece started out as a letter Morey sent to her Durham constituents, but the contents are a “must read” for all North Carolinians — particularly Morey’s colleagues in the General Assembly.

Here are some excerpts:

“In my 18 years as a judge I saw many incidents of injustice and misuse of police power. I left the bench to come to the General Assembly to fight for justice and equality. I remain committed to do so especially in this day and time.

I agree we need reform now. In my three years in the House of Representatives I have advocated for criminal law reform including: end cash bail, require that any person in jail for misdemeanor charges have a right to a first appearance, stop 16 and 17 year olds from being prosecuted as adults, and the Second Chance Act to help restart lives of those who have been incarcerated.”

Morey then provides a list of specific recommendations adapted from changes advanced by the groups by Campaign Zero and 8cantwait. Among the proposed changes:

  • Require officers to de-escalate situations, where possible, by communicating with subjects, maintaining distance, and otherwise eliminating the need to use force.
  • Ban officers from using chokeholds and strangleholds, in many cases where less lethal force could be used instead.
  • Require officers to intervene and stop excessive force used by other officers and report these incidents immediately to a supervisor.
  • Restrict officers from shooting at moving vehicles, which is regarded as a particularly dangerous and ineffective tactic.
  • Develop a Force Continuum that limits the types of force and/or weapons that can be used to respond to specific types of resistance.
  • Require officers to exhaust all other reasonable means before resorting to deadly force.

Morey’s list is not exhaustive. There are many experts around the country who believe that an even more comprehensive restructuring of American policing is necessary and those conversations need to commence. In the mean time, though, Morey”s list provides a solid starting point. Click here to read the entire letter.

One Comment


  1. Jim Gobbel

    June 8, 2020 at 10:02 am

    Growing up during the 50’s, I remember front covers of the magazine, the Saturday Evening Post. They portrayed a police officer with a smiling face talking with a child. Norman Rockwell was the artist. The police officer, in my opinion, was dressed like a police officer should be dressed.
    Today’s law enforcement agencies dress their officers in military style garb. Military style fatigues, and combat boots do not project a friendly image to the public. The military dress image presents police officers as warriors. I also believe that the warrior look causes too many law enforcement officers to conduct themselves as warriors.
    I’ll soon be 70 years old. I’ve experienced a lot of life. Hopefully, some municipalities will consider my suggestion to tone down the look of those who serve and follow the rule of law. This should be the first step toward change and reform. It’s a change that’s achievable and will be productive.

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