As I sit and watch the events of this week—and truly this entire year—unfold, I like many others are deeply saddened, frustrated and angry. We’ve seen the horrific shooting of Philando Castile, who, by all accounts, appeared to be a cooperative passenger during a traffic stop, by a police officer. We have seen Dallas police officers, who put their lives on the line every day to protect us, assassinated by a sniper during a protest in Dallas. And we’ve witnessed far too many other horrific acts that illustrate a nation divided, hurt and desperately in need of leadership.
But as I sit, I cannot just sit idly by. A problem-solver by nature, I am always inclined not just to bring awareness to a problem, but to find appropriate action steps.
Our President speaks in response to these events, but doesn’t often offer solutions. We need to take concrete action to solve problems and not just speak about them. So, I am offering my thoughts about some specific actions that the President can undertake to try to lead our nation.
This is meant to be helpful and a starting point. It is by no means all meant to be an exhaustive list and I willingly acknowledge that there may be better and other options. I just ask all who read this, in the spirit of trying to move our nation forward, that instead of finding points to criticize, please promote the ideas that resonate with you—or offer some of your own—to your Congressional representatives and to President Obama, so that we can become better, because we are better than this.
Dear President Obama,
Please take action and consider the following possible solutions.
Hold a Meeting with Leaders of Police Forces Throughout the Nation
Technology allows for you, as President, to speak directly to every police department in the nation and their leaders. Address them and seek their ideas and assistance to help lead this country forward.
Additionally, in the role of President, there hasn’t been enough done to concretely show and provide support for the efforts of law enforcement. This venue is an important one to showcase such support, which also must be shared vigorously with the nation.
Ask Police for Renewed Firearm Usage Training
While police officers receive extensive firearm training and strict guidelines on when they should draw their weapons and fire, and while the greater majority of police officers likely know these guidelines inside and out, there are clearly cases where it seems like that training hasn’t been learned or has been ignored. Learning and re-learning is a life-long pursuit. There’s no harm in reinforcing education and being very clear on what’s acceptable is something every police department should embrace.
Ask Police to Hold Meetings in their Communities
To say that there is a widespread breakdown of communication in communities across the nation would be an understatement. Every team knows that without strong communication, nothing moves forward. Ask law enforcement leadership to re-explore what community members want in terms of a relationship and how they can find a way to work together instead of against each other. Have law enforcement also be clear on what they are doing in terms of re-training and other efforts.
Ask Communities to Commit to Obligations
Communication and obligation is not a one-way street. We have far too much violence in communities across the nation, like in my hometown (and yours) of Chicago and many of its neighborhoods, which help to create the vicious cycle that keeps being perpetuated. Each community and its members need to hold up their end of the bargain as well, and again, find a way to collaborate with law enforcement. This creates accountability for all parties.
As President, you must strongly give guidance on how citizens should interact with law enforcement and steps that can be taken to strengthen communities. You should also put aside ancillary political agendas to focus on the real root of problems around violence and not turn these efforts into a further politicized mess.
Additionally, law enforcement should also ask for commitments from their respective communities and the community members as part of a renewed relationship and partnership.
Ask Law Enforcement to Share- and Facilitate the Sharing of- Their Efforts
Americans are very engaged on social media, and written, photographic and video material of these efforts creates a concrete and shareable knowledge that everyone is taking these efforts seriously. Not only should law enforcement share their efforts through their own channels, but the White House should have a place where these efforts can be showcased to show progress in action.
Encourage Americans to Participate Locally and Nationally
Entrepreneurs know that the best ideas often come from those closest to the issues. Encourage all Americans to share ideas that help to stem violence and bring the country together instead of pushing it apart. Re-engage to share the best of these ideas and call for implementation.
Actions speak louder than words. Without some actionable items, we will be relegated to hashtag awareness, continued and escalating violence and a divided, weakened nation. Please, President Obama, lead us and take action now.
**To the reader, what are your thoughts on which of these- and perhaps your own ideas- will make the most impact? Please share below.**