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Role of the Police in the USA

How the police could change its public perception

Matt Savoy, a cofounder of the Free Thought Project, is hypercritical of police and advocates for police accountability and transparency. However, Savoy says he is in no way “anti-police.”

Savoy believes the public’s perception of the police in the United States would change if they stopped “predatory policing.” Pulling citizens over for victimless crimes—such as speeding, expired car registration, and tinted windows—has only fueled the public’s dislike toward the police.

Most local governments and police departments earn revenue from taxation, which forces the police to enforce laws for victimless crimes, Savoy says.

“When we eliminate that, we eliminate the bad interactions that people have with police,” Savoy said.

Savoy says he has friends who are police officers who also hate having to pull people over for minor violations.

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“They hate having to go pull people over and tell them that, ‘Hey, you were driving without your seatbelt on, so now you owe me $200.’ It's a terrible way to go about. That's not policing. That's preying on people. It's called road pirates, and we don't need those in this country,” Savoy said.

Savoy says the police, as a whole, needs to align itself more closely with fire departments—rather than going out and seeking fires, they only respond when a fire has actually been reported and help is needed.

“Imagine that the fire department drove around looking for fires,” Savoy said. “They would probably start setting fires after not finding enough.”

Savoy noted how, in Colorado, some police have sent mental health-related cases and calls to social workers and other mental health professionals in a pilot program. Every single call resulted in zero arrests and violence, which Savoy says is “huge.”

Watch the full interview now: