“Activists come up with a plan to end police killings. Here it is,” the Los Angeles Times announces with a hint of smugness, as if to say to scoffers, “See? Black Lives Matter is a real movement with a real plan of action.” The plan, Times columnist Matt Pearce goes on to reveal with breathless admiration, is dubbed “Campaign Zero.” After reading the specifics, one assumes it was named for the amount of thought that went into it.
The campaign has its own website, which enumerates the group’s ten policy prescriptions for reforming policing in a way that will improve (prolong?) the lives of blacks. Some of the proposals are fairly vague — better training and better community oversight, for example — while others merely restate the overall perceived problem: limit the use of force.
One or two of the ideas are laudable — take the proposal to end police department quotas for tickets — though it’s hard to see how this will prevent further incidents of the sort that cried out for the formation of Black Lives Matter in the first place. It is worth noting that this bullet point is elaborated on and includes “limiting fines and fees for low-income people.” No explanation is given for why any lawbreaker should be shown favoritism on the basis of financial need.
One of the suggestions, equipping police with body cams, has already been implemented in many communities, while the recommendation that police forces be “demilitarized” (i.e., forbidden to purchase camouflage uniforms, armored vehicles, surveillance equipment, and more) is a dangerous precedent, the need for which is never explained.
A related proposal, ending “broken windows policing,” once again seeks to excuse people “of color” from committing acts of vandalism and other acts of criminal mischief. The accompanying text claims that “police killed at least 287 people last year who were involved in minor offenses.” No links or documentation is provided, but even if this number is accurate, a more detailed account is in order to determine whether some extenuating circumstance caused the interaction to escalate. More importantly, this proposal overlooks the numerous studies that have been done that reaffirm the inverse relationship between crime and quality of life. As one book puts it, “the farther one moves away from” slum-like conditions, “the more crime decreases.”
Apart from its failure to bring anything new to the conversation, the fundamental problem with “Campaign Zero” is that it proceeds from the same unfounded presumptions that fuel the Black Lives Matter movement. The theory that police throughout the country have it in for blacks has yet to be proven by substantive data. Until such data are presented, the great minds at BLM are busy trying to fix a problem that may not exist.