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President Makes Positive Steps Forward in Demilitarizing Police

President Makes Positive Steps Forward in Demilitarizing Police

The topics of criminal justice reform and community-police relations have been at the top of the news cycle for months. In fact, just yesterday the President traveled to Camden, New Jersey and visited with local law enforcement and met with young people in the Camden community to hear directly about the progress the revamped police force has made in building trust between law enforcement and the people of Camden. Through trips such as this one, and his establishment of the Task Force on 21st Century Policing, President Obama has demonstrated his commitment to improve communities and police departments across the country and respond to the series of deaths of unarmed black men at the hands of police.

His commitment however, is nothing new. Since his time as a State Senator in Illinois, President Obama worked to forge close connections with law enforcement and pushed for legislation to prohibit racial profiling and require police interrogations to be videotaped – all with support from law enforcement. Thus, it was no surprise that while in Camden, the President announced his intention to restrict military gear and equipment for local police departments. Grenade launchers, bayonets and weaponized vehicles will no longer be available to local police and other equipment like riot gear and other armored vehicles will be subject to a tougher approval process. This news came at the same time of the release of the Final Report of the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing which addresses a number of issues ranging from building trust and legitimacy to policy and oversight in addition to officer wellness and safety and other training and education efforts.

The announcements have been well received by the civil rights advocacy community, including the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights who released a statement applauding the initiatives as a positive step forward. They are encouraged that “the final report of the White House Task Force on 21st Century Policing provides a roadmap for the nation to more effectively address issues of discriminatory profiling, excessive use of force, and both implicit and explicit racial bias in policing.”

We are encouraged by the President’s work on this very important issue and thrilled to see a full report from the Task Force. We submitted our own public comments to the Task Force in January, and we will continue to advocate for reform and strong community police relations. Please join us by visiting our website for more information about our work on civil rights and criminal justice and urge your Senators and Representatives to help rebuild trust in communities by ending racial profiling.

Published: 5/19/2015

Categories: Social Justice