mission & vision
Moving Forward with Vision and Leadership
Reform Policing in America
Police violence directed at Black people is a legacy of our history of racial injustice. The murder of George Floyd was a tipping point for many Americans. President Obama recently wrote “We simply cannot afford to spend $80 billion annually on incarceration, to write off the seventy million Americans — that’s almost one in three adults — with some form of criminal record, to release 600,000 inmates each year without a better program to reintegrate them into society, or to ignore the humanity of 2.2 million men and women currently in U.S. jails and prisons. In addition, we cannot deny the legacy of racism that continues to drive inequality in how the justice system is experienced by so many Americans.”
We need to fundamentally change the culture of policing to build trust, legitimacy, and accountability. I suggest the following reforms:
- Police Misconduct Registry (Federal, State, Local) - State and federal laws are needed to mandate disclosure and registration of officers who are cited for serious misconduct. Every mayor and police chief should immediately re-evaluate officers with histories of misconduct and abuse against citizens and discharge officers who present a threat to citizen safety based on prior conduct.
- Comprehensive Policy on Use of Force (Federal, State, and Local) - The use of deadly force must be limited to the rare situations where an officer has probable cause to believe that a person poses an immediate threat of serious bodily injury or death and where all other means of apprehension have been exhausted.
- Mandatory Training on Racial Biases (Federal, State, Local) - Racial disparities in our criminal justice system are a legacy of our history of racial injustice. Black men are nearly six times more likely to be incarcerated than white men; Latino men are nearly three times as likely. Native Americans are incarcerated at more than twice the rate of white Americans.
- Invest in Community Health and Crime Reduction - Communities want and deserve effective strategies that reduce crime and provide support and hope to residents. Public safety cannot be achieved without attending to a host of conditions that disproportionately impact the poor, marginalized, and communities of color. Adequate care and mental health treatment, programs to help people struggling with drug addiction and dependency, and care for children and families who have been traumatized by violence and neglect are essential components of any successful effort to improve public safety. Stable housing, educational systems that do not criminalize children with special needs, youth employment programs, and support for families in crisis are all critical to make communities safe and directly relate to the many challenges that we currently respond to with policing.
- Incentivize and Create more Diverse Police Departments - A critical factor in managing bias is seeking candidates who are more likely to police in an unbiased manner. Law enforcement agencies must therefore strive to create a workforce that encompasses a broad range of diversity including race, gender, language, life experience, education, and cultural background to improve understanding and effectiveness in engaging with all communities. Achieving diversity in entry level recruitment is important, but achieving systemic and comprehensive diversification at every level of the department is the larger mandate. To facilitate this process, discretionary federal funding should be influenced by the department’s efforts to improve their diversity and cultural and linguistic responsiveness.