Sunday, June 06, 2021

What lessons do police in Europe have for American cops?


CBS News
What lessons do police in Europe have for American cops?


Correspondent Seth Doane asked Lawrence Sherman, a professor of criminology at the University of Cambridge in England, "How different is policing in America from Europe?"

"Oh, it's just like night and day," Sherman replied. In the United States, "If somebody doesn't drop a knife when an officer tells them to, even if they're not threatening somebody, the police can shoot and kill them. It would be murder in Europe."

"Are you saying the law in the U.S. is on the police officer's side and it's the reverse in Europe?"  

"I would say that the law in the United States goes to extraordinary lengths to justify police preemptive use of shooting," he said.


Haberfeld feels many police are willing, but not ready to do their job, because of insufficient training. In the U.S., the average police academy runs 17 weeks, whereas in Norway and Finland, police training runs three years; in Germany, between two and three years.

Doane asked, "What's the effect of this lesser training?"

"We're going to see people pushing back against the enforcement, and the quality of enforcement, that that they're receiving," Haberfeld replied.


According to a recent survey, police in the U.S. spend more than 20 percent of their time responding to people with mental illness. Sweden, facing similar problems, developed a "mental health ambulance," which is dispatched with a police unit when there is a mental health call. Andreas Carlborg explained their service works, in part, because health workers have access to medical records that police do not: "If you would talk to the police department in the United States, I think most of them would agree that they have to deal with these cases, and this should really primarily be dealt with by trained health care professionals, not the police."

Calls for reform in the U.S. are growing louder, but in a country with roughly 18,000 police departments, the hurdles to reform are structural and systemic. 

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