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Are Laws Dynamic Or Static? The Case Of Police Reforms In Atlanta And The Tenures Of Elected Officials In Liberia

Few days ago I wrote an article dealing with how ”LAW IS REASONING” based on the postponement of the midterm senatorial elections which was set constitutionally set for October this year, but has now been postponed to probably December this year. In that piece, I cited how sometimes some events or happenings like in the present Coronavirus which has led to the postponement or cancellation of planned events or activities, something people have reasonably accepted because of the prevailing circumstances or pandemic.

In that piece, I went further to define law, as contained in “Street Law,” a book for legal scholars and also stated the goals of laws which include protecting basic human rights; promoting fairness, helping resolve conflicts; promoting order and stability; protecting the environment; representing the will of the majority and protecting the rights of the minorities.

Unquestionably, I pointed out that, these are all of the goals every society strives to achieve, as anything contrary to these would be antithesis to the reasons and essence of enacting laws.

The late Rayshard Brooks who was shot twice in the back

To accentuate my argument, I invoke. “FORCE MAJURE”- the impossibility- which denotes that a planned event may not take place because of happenings beyond man’s control, like the Coronavirus Pandemic. FORCE MAJURE” is a French term which means, “a superior force.” An event or effect that can be neither anticipated nor controlled. The term include both acts of nature such as floods, hurricanes and acts of people such as riots, strikes and wars.

Today, I take interest in an event in Atlanta, Georgia in the United States, involving the deadly shooting of a black man Rayshard Brooks, by a white police officer, few days after massive protests in the United States and other countries for similar incident, which led to the death of one George Floyd, a black man by a white police officer.

Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms told reporters she did not think the shooting on Friday night of 27-year-old Rayshard Brooks, after a confrontation with two officers who tried to arrest him after he failed a sobriety test, represented “justified use of deadly force”. She also called for the officer who shot Brooks to be fired immediately. Brooks died in hospital after surgery, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) said earlier. One officer was treated for an injury and discharged. The officers were not immediately identified.

Speaking at a news conference, the mayor said: “What has become abundantly clear over the last couple of weeks in Atlanta is that while we have a police force full of men and women who work alongside our communities with honor, respect and dignity, there has been a disconnect with what our expectations are and should be, as it relates to interactions with our officers and the communities in which they are entrusted to protect.”

The case is the latest in a string of killings of African Americans by police which has led to civil unrest in cities across the US. The 25 May killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis is the highest-profile such case. The death of Breonna Taylor, in her own home in Kentucky in March, is also a focal point of protests and demands for reform.
Reports say this latest incident has led to the resignation of the police chief. The Atlanta police chief, Erika Shields, has resigned, less than 24 hours after an African American man was killed by officers outside a drive-through restaurant. “Out of a deep and abiding love for this city and this department, I offered to step aside as police chief. APD has my full support,” Shields said in a statement.

“Mayor Bottoms has my support on the future direction of this department. I have faith in the mayor, and it is time for the city to move forward and build trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve,” she said.

As I monitored the event, I gathered an official of the State vowed to institute ”REFORMS” in the modus operandi of the police, especially, as it relates to police presence when any of their colleagues is involved in acts threatening to the life of another human being. In the previous incident George Floyd was strangulated by a white police officer in the presence of other white police officers.

This issue now of reforms in that part of America, clearly indicates the situation that “Laws are not static, but dynamic,” in that a prevailing situation, events or happenings can reasonably bring about certain laws or reforms to curtail such acts.

Furthermore, this goes to say that what was not made a law, can later become law to deal with a particular or certain situation. When one speaks of STATIC, it refers to “something that is fixed or stationary condition; lacking no change or, movement, development and utility, while DYNAMIC refers to something that is characterized by energy, effective action or that which is vigorously active or forceful. Therefore, one can say that static is the opposite of dynamic.

I recall many years ago, one could travel through airports without the kind of vigorous search that is taking place at various ports of entry and ports to disembark. Traveling now is hectic because of vigorous search. So you see, what was not law has now become law because of “security reasons.” It shows how new laws can come about. Similarly, few years ago, what is now the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) was National Bank of Liberia. It was reformed with a new name to meet present day realities, with added responsibilities.

To bring the issue home, there are discussions in political corners for changes in the tenures of elected officials in the Legislative and Executive branches of government. At present, the tenure of the President is six years; Senators, nine years and members of the House of Representatives six years. These tenures are still binding. Even if there are changes through the required constitutional means, the incumbents would still end those tenures, for which they were elected, as laws are not “RETRTOACTIVE.”

Now there are proposals for reduction in these tenures. It is being proposed that the Presidency be reduced from six years to four years; Senate from nine years to six years, while members of the House say from six years to four years.

The basic arguments of those advocating for reduction in tenures is that such time is too long for elected officials, some of whom voters believe are not delivering the goods or living up to expectation, for which they were elected.

Howbeit, today, my interest is not to go into the merit or demerit of this argument, but to pinpoint the fact that laws are not static, but dynamic and as such, the laws on the tenures for elected officials can be changed if the people so desire.

Once again, laws can change based on prevailing situation at a given time, as it is in Atlanta, in the USA for reform, and this can also be in Liberia for elected officials. I am even hearing that there are efforts to reform the present election laws.

Whatever change or changes are made in laws, they must adhere to stand for those basic goals which include “protecting basic human rights; promoting fairness, helping resolve conflicts; promoting order and stability; protecting the environment; representing the will of the majority, and protecting the rights of the minorities.”

I Rest My Case.

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