DKC Hosts: Policing the Police: A public debate over body cameras and police reform
On April 25th DEBATE-Kansas City hosted, “Policing the Police: a public debate over body cameras and police reform.” The event was sponsored by the National Speech and Debate Association, KCUR, the Kansas City Star, the Arthur N. Rupe Foundation and UMKC. The debate was three-sided and featured three amazing debaters. Below is a description of each side and the debater that defended each position. One thing to note is that each debater was assigned their side and it did not necessarily reflect their own beliefs.
Side One: The proposal for police reform through body cameras. This position will argue that American policing needs reform because of excessive force, racial problems and growing distrust between citizens and the police. Body cameras have emerged as a federally funded solution, but they have been funded without any guidelines over their use. The solution is to issue federal guidelines that make sure body cameras both hold the police accountable and protect citizens from possible privacy concerns. The implementation of body cameras with effective guidelines will reduce police misconduct and increase accountability. That will in turn increase trust between the citizens and the police.
Side One Debater: Antonia Scott. A UMKC college debater that recently qualified to and competed at the National Debate Tournament (NDT). Before UMKC Antonia was a successful high school debater at Kapaun Mt. Carmel Catholic High School.
Side Two: This position will argue that body cameras will not help and may even hamper the police, and that they will reduce citizen privacy. American police face new threats from terrorism to those that wish to harm the police and Americans are the most armed citizens in the world. The police need more support not cameras. Police need better training, psychological support and more diverse applicants to help make the demographics of police forces more representative of the populations they serve.
Side Two Debater: Corey Fisher. A DKC graduate (Lincoln College Prep) and UMKC debater that was recently named the Cross Examination Debate Association (CEDA) Debater of the Year. Corey took second place at the 2017 CEDA National Tournament and earned the second place speaker award. In 2016 he was the top speaker at CEDA Nationals. Corey also excelled at the National Debate Tournament where he advanced to elite eight in 2017 and was named the 7th place speaker.
Side Three: A call of institutional reform that focuses on racism in policing. This position will argue that policing in America began with slave patrols and from that inception has continued to have an inherent racial bias. Further, body cameras will not reduce racism and will become a tool that actually helps the police increase misconduct. The solution is not a band aid measure to record police behavior, but to examine the root cause of biased policing, which is racism. This position will argue our intellectual focus should be on fixing this institutional problem rather than making small policy reforms.
Side Three Debater: Royal Sullivan. DKC’s Melvin B. Tolson Senior Award winner in 2017 from Sumner Academy. Royal has been a national tournament qualifier and won dozens of awards over his debate career, which began in middle school with DKC.
DEBATE-Kansas City also recorded the entire debate and you can watch it here: