AMA calls for end to police brutality, offers solutions

July 8, 2020

The AMA has come forward once again to address inequalities in underserved communities.

The American Medical Association (AMA) sent an open letter on July 6 to congress asking for police reforms, specifically in minority communities. This comes after last month’s announcement in which the AMA declared that racism is an urgent threat to public health.

“While we recognize that many who serve in law enforcement are committed to justice, the violence inflicted by police in the news headlines today must be understood in relation to the larger social and economic arrangements that put individuals and populations in harm's way, leading to both premature illness and death,” AMA leaders Jesse M. Ehrenfeld, MD, MPH, Immediate Past Chair of the Board and Patrice Harris, MD, MA, Immediate Past President said in a news release.

In addition, the AMA has provided a multi-step process in which these inequalities may be addressed, specifically when it comes to the affect racism has on an individual’s overall health.

“Existing research demonstrates that racially marginalized communities are disproportionally subject to police force, and there is a correlation between policing and adverse health outcomes,” James L. Madara, M.D. AMA CEO and EVP writes in the letter. “An increased prevalence of police encounters is linked to elevated stress and anxiety levels, along with increased rates of high blood pressure, diabetes, and asthma—and fatal complications of those comorbid conditions.”

Other suggestions include better juvenile justice reform, implicit bias and structural racism training for members of law enforcement, and the implementation of standard reporting requirements for officer homicides and legal intervention deaths.

“While we value the service of those in our law enforcement community who are committed to justice, we must make the necessary changes at the federal, state, and local levels to end discriminatory practices and unnecessary or excessive use of force,” Madara says. “We urge Congress to act now on meaningful and effective policing reform legislation.”