How Northern Ireland Could Provide a Model for Reforming American Policing

Michael Posner

By Michael Posner

By Michael Posner

In the aftermath of George Floyd’s brutal murder and the examination of police practices, Plato’s words provide succinct guidance: “In a republic that honors the core of democracy, the greatest amount of power is given to those called guardians. Only those with the most impeccable character are chosen to bear the responsibility of protecting the democracy.”

In the United States, the police are supposed to be the frontline guardians of our democracy. We empower them to fight crime, to ensure our personal safety, and in a broader sense, to protect public order. Each day most of the more than 800,000 police officers throughout our country carry out these duties well, and often at great personal risk. As one recent example, more than 5,300 employees of the New York Police Department were sick with Covid-19 as their work continued unabated through the pandemic. 

And yet for many people in our society, especially in black communities and other communities of color, encounters with police result in discriminatory treatment, physical abuse, and in the most extreme cases, in death. While some in the President’s orbit, like National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien, seek to diminish the scale of these failures, attributing police abuse and violence to the actions of “a few bad apples,” there is no doubt that these problems are much wider and deeper than this characterization would suggest. 

Read the full Forbes article.
Michael Posner is a Professor of Business and Society and Director of the NYU Stern Center for Business and Human Rights.