As massive waves of protesters in communities across the U.S. call for fundamental changes in American policing, former Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter told Cheddar the nation must find a balance between good policing and civilian safety.
“Black people, and just about everyone else I think, want some kind of law enforcement, keepers of the pace, in their community,” he said. “People want to be safe, but they don’t want to be abused while they’re being supposedly made safe.”
The death of George Floyd at the hands of police kicked off a movement that continues to gain traction. Lawmakers in some major U.S. cities, including New York Los Angeles and Minneapolis, are discussing plans to reallocate portions of police funding to go to programs that improve community relations and quality of life — an idea Nutter supports.
“Budgets should be scrupulously reviewed,” he said. “They should be scrutinized first by, in many instances, the mayor putting it forward in any city and certainly the city council…should go through that budget.”
As a two-term black mayor, Nutter has a rare perspective on maintaining community and police relations amid tragic killings. He said both sides of the issue are equally as difficult to address. Nutter said he made efforts at community reconciliation by addressing community members to help them understand the dangers of policing as well as helping officers understand that civilians “want to be treated like you would treat a family member.”
Still, Nutter hopes Floyd’s death, while devastatingly tragic, comes with reinforcing change.
“His legacy very well could be a significant, if not massive, change in policing in the United States of America and possibly other parts of the world,” he said.
Nutter echoed a familiar message in cities with embattled police departments: community and law enforcement relations can move forward once the people see real change.