In light of recent events regarding the tragic shooting and death of Patrick Lyoya at the hands of a GRPD officer; the Libertarians of West Michigan believes in and advocates for the following in order to reduce the amount of encounters civilians have with police officers that can, and far too often do, go from nonviolent to violent where deadly force is used and someone is killed.
Be it resolved that the Libertarians of West Michigan believes in and advocates for the following:
While accepting the current reality of policing and that police exist, we believe that so-called “violations”, such as improper vehicle registration along with other laws and revenue-generating methods should be set to the lowest level of priority for enforcement. This would allow for officers to pursue egregious offenses, which in turn directly helps and protects the communities that they are patrolling; reducing unnecessary encounters with police that at best are for revenue-generating purposes, and at worst, become the scene of a tragic death. This is not the first time the City of Grand Rapids has done this either. Various decriminalization efforts over the past decade have shifted a focus in policing away from things like marijuana; or more recently, the decriminalization of naturally-occurring psychedelic substances. During 2020 and into 2021, prioritization of missing plates or expired tags was far lower than in previous years, this rang true throughout the state. There were no visible negative changes because of these decisions, and as a result police resources were better prioritized, keeping more people safe by limiting encounters.
Prevention of these situations is the ultimate goal. Be it that they do occur, we advocate that officers are held accountable and to the same standards that their civilian counterparts would be. None of us are better than our neighbors, and the same should apply in legal trials. The Libertarian Party of Michigan advocates for the abolishing of Qualified Immunity and similar protection laws for the legal and classist protections that they create. However, abolishing QI does nothing in the way of prevention of these awful situations. Another situation in which an officer wasn’t held accountable in the city due to laws like these was during 2020; when Officer Phillip Reinink shot Sean Hart in the face at close range with a tear gas canister.
Training for officers including de escalation techniques, meeting civilians ‘where they’re at’ rather than immediately demanding conformity from a peaceful person, or even removing themselves from the situation as they await a partner to arrive; are all methods that can and should be implemented so as to reduce the chances and number of these violent encounters occuring. By doing such, both the community and officers are safer and as a result officers would hopefully not feel the need arise nearly as often to use deadly force leading to the killing of someone.
Libertarians of West Michigan