Presidential Candidate Julián Castro Unveils “People First Policing Plan”

Democratic presidential contender Julián Castro unveiled a new progressive plan for policing reform on June 3 that focuses on addressing police violence, increasing transparency, and repairing the relationship between local law enforcement and communities of color.

Castro’s “People First Policing Plan” is a three-pronged approach to fix policing in the United States.

“In the United States, according to a Washington Post analysis, nearly one thousand people are shot and killed by police each year. When you break down that number, you see clearly that Black men make up a disproportionate number of the victims of excessive police force,” Castro wrote in the plan’s unveiling. “This is not a case of a few bad apples. The system is broken.”

The former San Antonio mayor continued: “We have on our hands a national crisis in public safety.”

The plan aims to hold police accountable, end aggressive policing, and bring communities and law enforcement agencies together. Castro’s reforms would end “over-aggressive” and “racially discriminatory” policing by establishing national standards for police departments that receive federal funding.

Under the plan, law enforcement agencies would be required to restrict the use of deadly force unless there is an imminent threat to life and all other alternatives have been used. The plan would also bring an end to racial profiling and stop-and-frisk policies.

Police departments would be required to show accountability in instances of biased policing when federal funds are used under Castro’s plan. The People First Policing Plan would establish a public national database that tracks all police officers who are de-certified in any state or locality. It would also collect information about detention, stops, frisks, searches, summons, and arrests and make the information public to promote transparency.

The Democratic hopeful included a plan to introduce legislation that would lower the burden of proof to prosecute officers for misconduct. “Consequence-free” weapons discharges and arrests would be eliminated through strict reporting requirements. All fatal police shootings across the US would be investigated in a “transparent manner that ensures accountability.”

Castro hinted at his policing platform when he launched his campaign in January, Vox reported. In a June 1 appearance at the MoveOn Big Ideas Forum in California, Castro said that “for far too many people of color, any interaction with the police can become fatal.” He said the system was clearly broken, “so let’s fix it.”

“If police in Charleston, South Carolina can arrest Dylann Roof after he murdered nine people worshiping at Bible study without hurting him,” he said in January, “then don’t tell me that Michael Brown, and Tamir Rice, and Aiyanna Jones, and Eric Garner, and Jason Pero, and Stephon Clark, and Sandra Bland shouldn’t still be alive today, too.” Samuel Sinyangwe, cofounder and data scientist for Campaign Zero, told CBS News that the People First Policing Plan builds on policing policies enacted by the Obama Administration. The activist said that Castro’s plan “proposes a wide range of solutions that are proven to save lives and change policing outcomes.”

The former Housing and Urban Development secretary is the first 2020 Democratic presidential candidate to release such a proposal. According to Politico, Senator Cory Booker (D-N.J.) introduced the Next Step Act that would reduce mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent offenders, forbid employers from asking potential employees about their criminal history until the final states of the hiring process, and enfranchise formerly incarcerated people.

Booker’s proposed bill would build off the First Step Act, which was signed into law by President Donald Trump, Politico reported.

Castro, one of more than 20 Democrats aiming for the Democratic presidential nomination, has released plans for education and immigration. Despite his detailed proposals, Castro has not done well in recent polling. The Texas Democrat has consistently come behind heavyweight candidates, including former Vice President Joe Biden, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), and Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.).

About the Author

Nicole Rojas is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has published in various venues, including Newsweek, GlobalPost, IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly, and the Long Island Post. Nicole graduated from Boston University in 2012 with a degree in print journalism. She is an avid world traveler who recently explored Asia and Australia.