Skip to content
Menu

Police and Criminal Justice Reform

For nine years I proudly served as a communications consultant within the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, with a large part of my job working alongside local and state law enforcement officers from across the country such as Stockton, Calif.; New York City; and Birmingham, Ala.

But long before that, I spent time on the other side of law enforcement. 23 years ago as a teenager, I committed serious enough crimes to have warrants out for my arrest and served four months in a Florida county jail.

While incarcerated I was treated nicely, assigned a responsive public defender, and was quickly offered a plea deal to remove the felony I was facing without even having to ask for it. As a white kid from middle-class suburbs, I thought that was normal.

However, I also saw many fellow inmates incarcerated for far less severe crimes than I, be assigned public defenders who rarely met with them, frequently had their paperwork lost, and were harshly charged with maximum sentences.

The overwhelming majority of these inmates were Black or other people of color.

That was the start of my awakening to the need for major criminal justice reform and being libertarian. I became an advocate for reversing minimum sentencing laws, abolishing cash bail, ending Qualified Immunity, providing better mental health crisis support, and undoing our clearly racist drug laws.

Reforming our police department and criminal legal system is about removing police from non-violent incidents so they can prioritize and focus on the issues that really matter: assaults, robberies, reckless driving, and other acts of violence. We can build community law enforcement for the modern era. If we’re good enough at it, we can even step up to be role models for the rest of the nation on how police can protect the public’s safety and its civil liberties. 

MOBILE CRISIS FOR MENTAL HEALTH

We often fail to properly handle people experiencing mental health issues and therefore see calling the police as the only option. I fully support the “Mobile Crisis” model to train mental health professionals to serve as First Responders and will make sure it is fully funded as a public safety priority.

SUBSTANCE ABUSE TREATMENT

Criminalizing substance abuse has needlessly destroyed lives, families, and communities – especially minority ones. It’s time we handle drug possession, use, and addiction as personal health issues to be treated and not as criminal issues to be punished. Provide drug users with the help they need among the friends, family, and jobs they already have instead of forcing them into impersonal systems of police, judges, and jails. However, Arlington has challenges in providing substance abuse treatments – our only long-term treatment facility is in our county jail, and we only have a single short-term facility with very limited beds. Our community also has incredibly limited housing opportunities for people who are going through treatment programs. Increasing funding and networking with non-profits for specialized facilities is desperately needed.

TRUE ACCOUNTABILITY

The new Civilian Oversight Board and its’ paid Police Auditor position relies entirely on county leadership to implement recommendations and act on findings. I have spoken up for the Police Auditor to be independent of the County Manager and police department, and I further urge the state government to allow civilian oversight of the Sheriff’s Office and county jail. Another task to take to the state legislature: ending Qualified Immunity, which is easily abused to keep officers who commit crimes while on the job from being held accountable.

HIGHER PAY FOR HIGHER CALLINGS

Our police officers and public defenders suffer from a surprising, shared problem: poor pay. While increasing the training, background checks, and operational standards our police are held to they should be able to afford to live in the community without having to use overtime, quotas, or other tricks. Similarly, our public defenders perform an essential service for our society and to retain the best talent without the burnout they often suffer from we must ensure pay parity to local prosecutors.