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  • Writer's pictureRev. Sara Lilja

God is at work, have you noticed?

Matthew 13:31-52

In this week’s Gospel reading we hear Matthew recount several parables about how God works in unexpected ways, using ordinary means to bring about God’s Kingdom. God’s activity propels those acted upon to change and grow.

How has God’s activity in the events of the past month caused you to change and grow? Did you notice that God is active in reforming Criminal Justice in our state?

On July 1st the Governor signed into law three pieces of legislation that promotes criminal justice reform. These pieces of legislation require greater transparency for law enforcement agencies when officers move to new positions; assist juveniles to move into post-incarceration supervision; and assist inmates in obtaining re-entry benefits. As our state moves to address the serious inequalities in the criminal justice system, we must address policing as part of this much needed systemic reform.

In an opinion piece published by the New York Times recently, Major David Hughes a police officer wrote, “The world has changed. Policing needs to catch up”

God is at work. We are being called to reimagine policing and public safety in our state and communities. This means changing the statutes for the use of force by police, providing greater investments in public health responses for those who need intervention not arrest, and creating community led accountability structures.

In mid-June the Attorney General's Office notified county prosecutors that the use of chokeholds and neck restraints could only be used when officers believe that they are in serious danger and the use of deadly force is necessary. This does not go far enough; we must change the standard for the use of deadly force in the state and the Attorney General, Gurbir Grewal agrees. He announced that his office would be updating guidelines on use of force, which have been unchanged in 20 years. But his office has been working on these new guidelines for nearly three years.

God has acted, and we have changed. We can no longer accept racially biased policing, excessive use of force and police budget that well exceed the needs of social service budgets. Call the Attorney General’s office at 609-292-4925 to share your outrage and insist on swift reform to the Use of Force Guidelines or email his office sharing your concern about the use of force Here in the public comment section. The following are suggestion for you to advocate for when making your comment.

The new guidelines should require officers to attempt to control an incident by using time, distance, communications, and available resources in an effort to deescalate a situation whenever it is safe, feasible, and reasonable to do so.

And the Guidelines should limit the use of deadly force, as defined, by an officer to those situations where it is necessary, to prevent or defend against a threat of imminent and serious bodily injury or death to the officer or to another person.

Here is the link for the Public Comment page on the Use of Force.

Take some time in prayer and conversation, notice where God is active building the Kingdom from your view. This is God at work, and our hands are needed to send emails and to make calls.

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