After working for several decades as a detective with the Los Angeles Police Department, Timothy T. Williams Jr. has become an expert on police procedure, use of force, and wrongful convictions.
“Police should look the same in minority communities as White communities,” said Williams.
That’s why he believes it will take a systemic change for the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act to have the intended impact if passed by federal lawmakers.
After a pandemic that culminated in a renewed fight for social and racial justice, America’s criminal justice system will never be the same, said justice experts.
“I don’t think courts are going to go back to business as usual,” said Irma Brown, a retired Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge. “I think it’s certainly necessary that we focus on law enforcement.”
Brown said if law enforcement does things the right way on the street, that will take care of a lot of issues before they even reach the criminal justice system.
Ending no-knock warrants and chokeholds are key portions of the George Floyd Act. To make sure local law enforcement implements those proposed changes, federal funding will likely be tied to the reform.
Experts gathered on May 28 for a virtual panel to discuss the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act and whether it goes far enough.
The deep dive discussion centered around the perspective of Williams, a police procedure expert. Panelists openly debated whether the proposed reforms can survive without reforms in criminal prosecution, parole, probation, and children and family services.
“It’s five lifetimes worth of work,” Williams said.
Panelists also wondered aloud whether law enforcement reform or criminal justice reform should come first. However, all agreed that the culture and standards of recruitment in law enforcement need to change.
“Law school is three of four years,” said Brown, who holds the historic distinction of being the first woman ever appointed to the Compton Municipal Court in 1986. “Six months (at the police academy) is not really enough time to train.”
Brown said in her opinion, the proposed federal legislation is primarily focused on federal law enforcement.
“Once there is a uniform standard in law enforcement, then I think we will see fewer and fewer problems,” Brown said.
Williams said it is important for law enforcement to have community-based relationships, taking a holistic approach to protect and serve all residents.