What will real police reform mean for America? Our expert can explain if you are covering.

What will real police reform mean for America? Our expert can explain if you are covering. What will real police reform mean for America? Our expert can explain if you are covering.

April 21, 20213 min read

It seemed as if all of America was waiting and watching on April 20 as the jury delivered its verdict in the trial of Derek Chauvin.

After the killing of George Floyd last May, Americans took to the streets in protest across the country. Demand change come and an end to police racism and systemic discrimination.

The trial has garnered attention and calls for change from the country’s highest office.

"We can't stop here," President Joe Biden said at the White House, calling Tuesday's verdict "a much too rare" step forward for Black men. Vice President Kamala Harris said: "We are all a part of George Floyd's legacy and our job now is to honor it and to honor him."

The method for making the most fundamental set of changes to policing in a generation, the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, is already sitting in the Senate. Democrats say it would end racial and religious profiling, ban chokeholds on suspects, eliminate no-knock warrants on drugs cases, make it easier to prosecute offending police officers and would overhaul police training to build trust with the communities in which officers serve. Yet its path is challenging given the opposition of many Republicans to the concept of Washington establishing federal standards for police. April 21 - CNN

  • But what will it take for change to come?
  • What will that change look like?
  • And is America really ready for fundamental change when it comes to policing and law enforcement?

Media are looking for answers. Politico included MSU's Jennifer E. Cobbina as one of the country's top experts and sought here opinion on Tuesday's verdict.

"Today we have seen accountability for one police officer’s actions. We have witnessed some form of accountability take place, which was necessary. However, we should not be mistaken that justice has taken place. Justice would have been George Floyd not being murdered. Every day that Black people worry whether they will be the next George Floyd is another day without justice. The one guilty verdict does not mean that the criminal legal system values Black lives. It took overwhelming evidence with unimaginable footage and witnesses to bring this case to trial and gain convictions.

Collectively, so many people were holding their breath waiting for the verdict. The fact that so many of us knew what the verdict should be but remained uncertain of what it actually would be speaks volumes about the state of our nation. Police are rarely held accountable. Hopefully this case will send a signal to every official within the criminal legal system that the tide is shifting.

There is still so much work to be done, which begins with acknowledging that structural racism is entrenched in policing, and we must continue to fight for systemic change to policing in America. We need to stop pretext traffic stops, stop reliance on fines and fees, end qualified immunity, restructure civilian payouts for police misconduct, limit the power of police unions and defund the police."  April 21 - Politico

If you are a journalist covering the outcome of the Derek Chauvin trial and what reforms or changes lie ahead in America -– let our experts help with your story.

Jennifer E. Cobbina is an associate professor in the School of Criminal Justice at Michigan State University. She is an expert in the areas of race, crime, policing, as well as protest movements. Professor Cobbina is available to speak with media – simply click on her icon to arrange an interview today.

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  • Jennifer Cobbina
    Jennifer Cobbina Associate Professor

    Expertise is in topics on race, crime, and policing; protest movements; and prisoner reentry

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