-- President Obama, May 18, 2015
Only three years ago, the murder rate in Camden, NJ, was five times that in neighboring Philadelphia, PA, and 18 times higher per capita than in New York City. Local leaders and engaged members of the community took action, increasing interaction with police officers and the community and utilizing new technology and data. In less than two years, the city was able to reduce the number of homicides almost in half.
Today, the President of the United States visited Camden, NJ, to highlight some of the innovative actions the city has taken, and other cities can replicate, to create economic opportunity, help police do their jobs more safely, and reduce crime in the process.
The President also highlighted how communities, including Camden, NJ, are adopting the recommendations of the Task Force on 21st Century Policing to build and maintain the all-important trust between the law enforcement officers who put their lives on the line every day, and the communities they have sworn to protect. Throughout my own two decades as Mayor, nothing was more important for the safety of my hometown than promoting trust and mutual respect between police officers and the residents they serve.
Since December 2014, when the President created the Task Force on 21st Century Policing, I have heard from Mayors across the country who feel the same way as I did as Mayor, and are taking proactive steps to build and strengthen relationships between local law enforcement and their community. From Mayor Dan Clodfelter enacting a “Cops & Barbers” program in Charlotte, NC, to Mayor Marty Walsh enforcing Academy training for officers to better interact with youth in Boston, MA, cities are working to make sure local law enforcement are an active and trusted part of their communities.
Over the next few weeks, members of the President’s Cabinet will travel across the country to lift up some of these cities where local leaders have successfully partnered with federal agencies, foundations, private sector partners and police departments to improve the quality of life in their communities. Secretary Castro will visit Fullerton, CA, Kansas City, and St. Louis; Secretary Duncan will travel to Philadelphia; Secretary Foxx will travel to Charlotte; Secretary Perez will travel to Minneapolis, New Haven, and Pittsburgh; Secretary Vilsack will travel to Memphis; and Attorney General Lynch will travel to Cincinnati as part of a national Community Policing tour.
In addition to those cities, below are 10 communities where local elected officials, police departments, faith groups, youth groups, and others have come together to make real, noticeable progress since the President launched the 21st Century Policing Task Force. Whether that means joining the President’s My Brother’s Keeper Community Challenge, or hosting town halls with active participation from police officers and local youth, these cities are putting a spotlight on the issue of community policing and opening an important dialogue within their communities.
To find out more about best practices and new tools all cities can utilize to help bridge a stronger relationship between local law enforcement and communities, click HERE.
Since the launch of the President's Task Force on 21st Century Policing, the city of Gary has intensified or started a number of initiatives. Although the Gary Police Department has engaged in community oriented policing since the inception of the COPS program, we have made COPS training mandatory for all officers and have instituted community oriented policing as the standard in Gary. We have instituted a regular rotation of community forums led by police officers. All public safety officers (police and fire) have increased their participation in neighborhood clean-up, sporting and community service programs. The city administration has supported the formation and activities of the local "Black Lives Matter" organization. Finally, we have engaged the comprehensive anti-crime strategy outlined by the National Network for Safe Communities by engaging educational providers, the business community, neighborhood leaders and law enforcement to address crime directly and focus on underlying factors.
Office of Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson, Gary, IN
Los Angeles, CA
The City of Los Angeles has a long-standing commitment to the principles of community policing outlined in the 21st Century Policing Report, and is actively working on enhancing the LAPD's efforts in this area. This year, Mayor Garcetti unveiled the creation of a new LAPD Division entirely dedicated to community outreach, community policing, and social media engagement. The Department is also engaging in expansions of cutting-edge digital media technologies, including outfitting its officers with body cameras, and several programs dedicated to deepening relationships with LA's diverse communities while leveraging best practices in community policing, including its Gang Reduction and Youth Development and Domestic Abuse Response Team programs.
Office of Mayor Eric Garcetti, Los Angeles, CA
Under the leadership of Mayor Walsh and Commissioner Evans, the Boston Police Department prioritizes relationships with youth and the community as the key to building trust and creating safe and thriving neighborhoods. This starts with an emphasis on daily interactions on the streets and in school classrooms; includes proactive prevention and diversion for at-risk youth and their families; and provides pathways away from violence for those who are ready to make a change. The Boston Police Department is proud to be part of the City’s participation in both My Brother’s Keeper and the National Forum on Youth Violence Prevention – two Presidential initiatives that understand the need for comprehensive collaborative approaches to complex problems. The BPD has strong partnerships and collaborations with many other agencies, non-profits, and community based programs. From the vast array of year-round district activities with youth to the support for homicide survivors and victims of domestic violence; from the home visits and referrals of at-risk youth to social workers to the youth dialogues with community partners; from Coffee with a Cop to flashlight walks with residents; from Shop with a Cop to the Academy training officers to better interact with youth; and from reentry programs for returning offenders to school safety days with special needs populations; the BPD is working every day to build and strengthen relationships with the community.
Office of Mayor Marty Walsh, Boston, MA
In his 2015 State of the City address, Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson announced a new Officer Next Door initiative aimed at improving police-community relations. His vision is to make Sacramento the safest big city in California and a model of community policing demonstrated by a measurable decrease in crime and a measurable increase in community trust and engagement. Based on feedback shared at four community forums (with average attendance of 250), Mayor Johnson created a four-part framework to guide this initiative – 1) training, 2) diversity, 3) accountability, 4) engagement – with specific recommendations tied to each of the four categories.
To provide further policy direction and oversight, Mayor Johnson created a Public Safety Ad Hoc Committee of City Councilmembers (“the Ad Hoc”). Upon the release of the Interim Report of the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing, Mayor Johnson met with the Ad Hoc to outline the connections between his framework and the Task Force report… The report is also informing the Ad Hoc's work around training, diversity, and engagement.
Mayor Johnson has also prioritized funding for recommendations in his Officer Next Door framework in the City of Sacramento’s budget. For example, the City’s proposed FY15-16 budget includes $1 million in new spending for a pipeline hiring program for recruiting a diverse police force. These funds will be used to help transition young adults from criminal justice academies, cadet programs, local community colleges and universities to careers in law enforcement… Funding will support 22.5 FTEs, or 40-60 part-time personnel and help build a diverse department that is more reflective of the community it serves.
Office of Mayor Kevin Johnson, Sacramento, CA
In response to the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing, the City of Hartford launched a Public Safety initiative that has four components; outreach and recruitment, a five-week summer program for a minimum of 45 students, an extended year program, and a post-secondary program. Students are recruited- as early as possible- to participate in a paid summer internship where they spend two weeks at the police academy and two weeks at the fire academy. They learn forensics, emergency medical response protocols, etc. The primary goal is to hire more residents in the Hartford Police Department by creating a direct pipeline for young people to our Police Academy. Those students then receive year round programming with monthly meetings where they perform a task and meet with their mentors from the police or fire departments. The post-secondary program is a partnership between the City and local community colleges and universities to provide continued mentoring, test preparation and tuition assistance. This was created to address the gap in time between a high school graduate who is 18 years old and the required age to take the police exam, which is 21 years old. The City of Hartford decided to establish the Public Safety Initiative via City Ordinance to secure its existence beyond any one administration, secure annual budget allocation, and to make it enforceable by municipal code. It is one of the ways we continue to implement police reform, address diversity within our public safety departments, and build trust between police and our Hartford community. We consider it a long-term solution, one that also addresses the challenge of unemployment by preparing our young students for good jobs in public safety.
Office of Mayor Pedro Segarra, Hartford, CT
The President's Task Force on 21st Century Policing has worked tirelessly over several months to develop community policing recommendations in response to the troubling events that have transpired in cities around the nation. Madison will very closely consult the recommendations outlined in the Task Force's Final Report as we strive to continue to enhance our approach to community policing. The implementation of these excellent recommendations and proposals is just one in a series of steps that our city and others must consider to increase opportunities for every American and invest in initiatives that promote equity and social justice. Consistent with the Task Force Report, Madison is now closely examining acquisition of Body Cameras and is also undertaking a full review of policing standards and practices. In addition, the Mayor has assembled representative community members to work with police on issues related to community-police tensions. Finally, we are proceeding with our "My Brother's Keeper" initiative which we know will make an important contribution in Madison to the overall objectives of the 21st Century Task Force.
Office of Mayor Paul Soglin, Madison, WI
After the issuance of the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing Interim Report and a list of recommendations from the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, Mayor Michael Nutter formed a 24 member Police Community Oversight Board to implement both sets of recommendations. The Board, headed by the Dean of Temple University Law School, is charged with advancing efforts to create a more responsive, more ethical, and more service-oriented police department by materially implementing the recommendations in both reports. In addition, the Board is to assess the effects of the implemented recommendations on the actual and perceived relationship between the police department and the community. The Board will issue public reports twice yearly.
Office of Mayor Michael Nutter, Philadelphia, PA
Salt Lake City, UT
I commend President Obama and the members of the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing for their critical work examining law enforcement practices nationwide. The recommendations of the Task Force will help Salt Lake City and other cities to strengthen community policing and to enhance trust between law enforcement officers and the communities they serve and protect. We will continue these efforts to improve those critical relationships in Salt Lake City with the guidance and partnership of the Obama Administration and the work of the Task Force. As examples, Salt Lake City Police Chief Chris Burbank and I have initiated new outreach into our community to evaluate our whole policing system, from hiring to training to protocols, to independent review and transparency. We are continuing to work on changes in our administration and policies for Salt Lake City.
Office of Mayor Ralph Becker, Salt Lake City, UT
With the support of Mayor Dan Clodfelter and the Charlotte City Council, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department introduced a new partnership formed with the North Carolina Local Barbershop Association (NCLBA). Since the launch of the “Cops & Barbers” partnership, CMPD and NCLBA have coordinated monthly town hall meetings with the African-American community. The CMPD and NCLBA have committed to 13 town hall events this year in different areas of the city. These events are intended to open an honest dialogue on matters involving police and race relations in the African-American community. Additionally, the community is informed of the appropriate manner with which officers must conduct themselves when engaging with the public. These are extremely important and timely topics in light of several recent police involved incidents with members of the African-American community across the country. Town halls include candid panel discussions between officers and young men and women from the African-American community to exchange ideas, opinions and give honest feedback on ways to strengthen community relations. The response to the town halls thus far has been nothing short of impressive. These events draw hundreds of community members who are engaged and show an overwhelming interest in building bridges and strengthening relationships. CMPD is currently working to harness this engagement and enthusiasm by looking to identify several other community opportunities independent of the town halls that would involve officers and young members of the African-American community. The intent is to break down existing barriers between the youth and officers and help them to see things from a different perspective and build strong relationships.
Office of Mayor Dan Clodfelter, Charlotte, NC
New Orleans, LA
Under the leadership of Chief Michael Harrison, the NOPD is engaged in strong community policing efforts every day to improve the relationship between the police and the New Orleans community. A team of more than a dozen officers are available on any given day to participate in activities with a variety of faith-based, civic and young professional organizations. In addition, officers are no longer simply attending community meetings, they’re hosting community meetings and actively participating in discussions. The NOPD is committed to effective, constitutional and professional law enforcement. In fact, the NOPD implemented one of the largest and aggressive Body Worn Camera programs in the country in 2014 with an initial rollout of 440 BWC. Now, every new police recruit is trained to use the equipment and every NOPD officer who responds to a call for service is wearing a BWC. The new technology changes citizen and officer behavior and holds everyone accountable for their actions. Based on the NOPD’s experience, Chief Harrison served as a subject matter expert in a recent national forum on building a BWC tool kit for departments across the country. The Sunlight Foundation – a national, non-profit organization focused on government transparency and accountability – has touted the New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) as being “ahead of the curve” when it comes to making criminal justice data available and easily accessible to the public.
Office of Mayor Mitch Landrieu, New Orleans, LA
Jerry Abramson is Deputy Assistant to the President and Director of the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs. He previously served as Mayor of Louisville, Kentucky for 21 years, and Lieutenant Governor of Kentucky under Governor Steve Beshear.