National Police Foundation Launches Council on Policing Reforms and Race

WASHINGTON, October 8, 2020,/PRNewswire/—The National Police Foundation (NPF) announces the formation of the Council on Policing Reforms and Race (“Council”), a majority African American led nonpartisan initiative that will use research and evidence to consider and offer recommendations to resolve some of the most significant and pressing issues with regard to policing reforms and race. In launching this effort, NPF is acknowledging the role that racism, bias, culture (societal and organizational), and patterns and practices have played and continue to play and will encourage the Council to offer commentary, recommendations, and solutions for addressing these issues, which have substantially led to the deterioration of trust and respect between law enforcement and Black communities. While various national panels and blue-ribbon commissions have been put forth previously to address similar areas of concern, this effort is distinguished by its aims of bringing together a broad cross-section of perspectives, infusing what we know and don’t know from science in relation to these issues, elevating the voices of Black American working inside and outside of the policing profession, and with the support of an organization such as NPF that aims to see these recommendations through to implementation.

The Council, being led and predominantly comprised of African American leaders from community-oriented organizations, research scholars, business, economic and faith leaders, elected officials, policing leaders and others, will collectively make policy and practice recommendations for reforms that address these issues, particularly to reduce and prevent disparate policing outcomes affecting Black communities. Key to these deliberations will be their grounding in data and science as the basis for informed dialogue and conclusions. The Honorable Val Demings (FL-10) Representative from Florida’s 10th District and serving on the House Judiciary Committee, the Congressional Black Caucus and the Law Enforcement Caucus will serve as co-chair of the Council, along with Yale Law School Professor and Pulitzer Prize Winning Author James Forman, Jr., a prominent national figure in the discourse of justice reform.

“I loved my career in law enforcement, and few days go by that I don’t think about the brave men and women who put on the uniform, and the citizens they protect and serve. As we work to bring necessary change to police departments, we must also address injustices that have unfortunately impacted every aspect of American society. We must hold America to her promise in all systems,” says Congresswoman Val Demings.  “I look forward to working with Professor Forman and this diverse group of professionals—from educators, researchers, civil and human rights leaders, to athletes, public safety practitioners, and others—to restore trust and ensure every community is treated with dignity and respect. I am committed to doing everything within my power to heal and restore our nation and reestablish the special relationship every community deserves to enjoy with their police departments.”

“This Council comes together at an unprecedented moment in American history,” says Professor James Forman. “For 400 years Black Americans have been over-policed, over-punished, and under-protected. Today we have the chance to imagine and create a different future—one in which Black communities depend less on police for safety, and where law enforcement consistently values and protects Black life.”

The Council is expected to address policing reform topics such as:

  • enhancing accountability;
  • addressing organizational cultural issues that affect policing;
  • the role of recruitment and training in reforms;
  • disproportionality (as it relates to contact, response, and victimization), and;
  • the role of elected leaders, while confronting the existence of outcomes that are influenced by or that lead to racism and bias.

“It has been said that the validity of constitutional principles in the lives of individuals is often determined by the actions of a single law enforcement officer. The National Police Foundation was created 50 years ago to help address the issues of race in America. That struggle continues with equal intensity today,” says NPF Board Chairman, Bernard “Barney” Melekian. “The National Police Foundation is honored to support the Council’s efforts to chart a path forward.”

These factors and issues have been identified previously, but rarely have they been the central focus of reform discussions as they will be within the Council. Furthermore, the Council will offer recommendations for elected and appointed officials, the policing profession and the organizations that represent it, community organizations, and others to better advance the profession and ensure safe and thriving communities.

“Our pursuit of justice and professional policing begins with the acceptance of racial disparities as an issue. The Council will amplify and elevate the voices of Black leaders who will consider these issues and work tirelessly to propose advancements that highlight the critical need for science-informed and honest dialogue as it relates to race and reform in American policing,” says NPF President Jim Burch. “I believe this to be an unprecedented opportunity to confront some of the most significant issues in our society today. However, our responses must be thoughtful, informed, and must take a constructive approach to reimagining the policing and the justice that is desired. While racial injustice is often related back to specific incidents and officers, we must reconcile that while individual factors can play a role, in most cases it is the training, policies and system mechanisms that should be our focus in order to address disparate outcomes. Police officers have limited options and are expected to follow the policies and training they were given—and thus, we should not direct all of our change efforts on specific individuals but instead on the system as a whole. It is the view of the Foundation that abolishing, mass defunding or disabling the police to meet its public safety mission will not prove to be workable, responsible, or sustainable and in fact, may jeopardize more than they may protect or gain.”

The Council will be comprised of the following 17 members in addition to the two co-chairs and will meet virtually at least six times over the next several months:

Dr. Shon F. Barnes is a former deputy chief of police and law enforcement veteran who has studied issues of police-community relations and trust, and is now working in civilian oversight and training of law enforcement.

Reverend Jeffrey Brown is a pastor and the president of RECAP (Rebuilding Every Community Around Peace), and one of the key architects behind the “Boston Miracle” that saw the violent crime rate among youth in Boston plummet by 79% across a decade. Reverend Brown is a national speaker on collaborative leadership, community building, and instituting real change in organizations of all stripes.

Dr. Rod Brunson is a professor of criminology and criminal justice and political science at Northeastern University and former Dean of the School of Criminal Justice at Rutgers University. Dr. Brunson is an award-winning scholar, prolific author, and sought-after speaker who is widely known for his expertise regarding the impact of concentrated neighborhood disadvantage, police-community relations, with a special focus on the interactions of race, class, and gender, and their relationship to criminal justice practices. He is a Fellow of the American Society of Criminology.

Ralph Clark is President & CEO of ShotSpotter, a leading provider of precision policing solutions including gunshot detection technology. Mr. Clark is equally committed to shareholder values and making a meaningful societal impact. He is dedicated to helping law enforcement agencies provide equal protection for at-risk and underserved neighborhoods, reducing gun violence, and restoring police as trusted guardians of the community. 

Sheriff Jerry Clayton is a 30-year law enforcement veteran, currently serving his third term as the Sheriff of Washtenaw County, Michigan, and is known nationally for vision and pursuit of policing and justice reforms as well as his delivery of training on behalf of the American Civil Liberties Union and his work to promote improved response to mental health needs in the community.

Warrick Dunn is a minority owner of the Atlanta Falcons, a 12-year veteran of the National Football League, running back, philanthropist, and founder of Warrick Dunn Charities. At the age of 18, Mr. Dunn was left to raise his siblings after the loss of his mother who was a Deputy Sheriff in Louisiana.

Dr. Robin Engel is Professor of Criminal Justice at the University of Cincinnati and Director of the International Association of Chiefs of Police/ UC Center for Police Research and Policy. She previously served as UC’s Vice President for Safety and Reform. Throughout her career, Dr. Engel has engaged in award-winning research, and is consistently ranked among the top academics based on peer-reviewed publications in the field of criminal justice/criminology. She has served as the Principal Investigator for over 80 research projects, partnering with police agencies to provide technical assistance and training deigned to reduce harm in communities and improve police practices.

Lynda Garcia is the policing program director at the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. The policing program works to promote 21st century best practices in policing through collaborative reform. Before joining The Leadership Conference, Lynda served as a trial attorney in the Special Litigation Section in the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice, where she conducted pattern-or-practice investigations of law enforcement agencies and the enforcement of consent decrees to ensure constitutional, bias-free policing. She began working on policing reform at the ACLU national office and the ACLU of New Jersey, where her work focused on challenging discriminatory police practices in communities of color. She is the primary author of the Leadership Conference’s 2019 report, New Era of Public Safety: A Guide to Fair, Safe, and Effective Community Policing, and co-author of the ACLU’s 2013 study, The War on Marijuana in Black and White, documenting racial disparities in marijuana possession arrests nationally.

Police Commissioner Michael Harrison is currently serving the City of Baltimore and previously served at the New Orleans Police Department for nearly three decades. Commissioner Harrison has been instrumental in the development, implementation, and assessment of community policing programs that have led to demonstrably increased partnership and collaboration. Commissioner Harrison was appointed to the Police Executive Research Forum Board of Directors in 2019, where he now serves as Vice President. He is a member of the Major City Chiefs Association, the International Association of Chiefs of Police, and the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives.

Maurice A. Jones is president & CEO of Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC). LISC is one of the country’s largest organizations supporting projects to revitalize communities and catalyze economic opportunity for residents. Prior to joining LISC, Maurice was the Secretary of Commerce and Trade for the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Deputy Police Chief Tarrick McGuire currently serves at the Arlington TX Police Department. As a public speaker and published author, Deputy Chief McGuire has been at the forefront of developing innovative strategies and programming, leading national change in community police relations. As a police executive, Deputy Chief McGuire served as a Law Enforcement Fellow with the International Association of Chiefs of Police contributing to public safety research and police reform on 21st Century Policing in Washington D.C. Under IACP, he worked on national efforts with the Department of Justice C.O.P.S Office and White House Administration to improve policing practices, policies, and relationships between law enforcement and communities of color throughout the United States.

Mary Beth O’Connor is a founding member and managing partner of Lucky VIII, an independent film, television, and theatre production company. In 2015, O’Connor joined RKO Pictures under its chairman and CEO Ted Hartley. The RKO Pictures appointment coincides with the company’s re-emergence as a leader in 21st Century media. RKO Pictures includes the company’s legendary library, as well as new film, TV, stage and new media projects.  

Connie Rice, Esq. is an American civil rights activist and lawyer. She is also the co-founder and co-director of the Advancement Project in Los Angeles. She has received more than 50 major awards for her work in expanding opportunity and advancing multi-racial democracy. She is a second cousin of former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

Robert Gary Sarver is a business entrepreneur. He founded National Bank of Arizona, Torrey Pines Bank, and Alliance Bank of Arizona. He has served on many public Boards including Zions Bancorporation, Meritage Homes, and Skywest Airlines. Mr. Sarver currently is the Executive Chairman of Western Alliance Bancorporation ( 33 Billion in assets ) and the Managing Partner of The Phoenix Suns. He is also a Board member of Real Club Deportivo Mallorca and The Sarver Heart Center at the University of Arizona.

Bill Taylor began his career in the insurance industry in 1975. Prior to forming Miravast in 2012, Mr. Taylor was the SVP, Chief Underwriting Officer for the AIG division responsible for investing in life insurance policies. He was the principal founder of its life settlements operation and managed the largest life settlement portfolio in the market, featuring over $5 billion invested in approximately 7,000 policies with a total face amount of more than $20 billion. His responsibilities included the development of the group’s mortality table and all aspects of the pricing of life settlements.

Mayor Michael Tubbs currently serves as the mayor of the City of Stockton, California. Upon taking office in January 2017, Mayor Tubbs became both Stockton’s youngest mayor and the city’s first African American mayor. Under his leadership Stockton has been named an All-America City three times, in 2018 was named the second most fiscally healthy city in the country, and homicides have been reduced by 40%. Michael Tubbs is also the youngest mayor in the history of the country representing a city with a population of over 100,000 residents.

Ronald Weitzer received his PhD in sociology from the University of California, Berkeley in 1985 and is currently professor emeritus at George Washington University.  He is a criminologist, and much of his research has investigated police-minority relations and police accountability in the United States and in other nations. He is co-author of Race and Policing in America: Conflict and Reform and author of Policing Under Fire: Ethnic Conflict and Police-Community Relations in Northern Ireland.

Furthermore, the Foundation has appointed Dr. Andrea Headley as the Visiting Scholar on Policing, Race, and Crime, a new position that will consider and address the issues of police reform as it relates to race. Dr. Headley is currently serving as Assistant Professor at the McCourt School of Public Policy at Georgetown University. She is a scholar of public management, criminal justice policy, and racial equity. In her role as NPF’s Visiting Scholar, Dr. Headley will be supporting the Council and providing expertise in conducting policing and crime research and analysis in cases where race is a major factor.

As a result of the discussions, the Council plans to develop and release final recommendations on policing reform by Spring 2021.

The National Police Foundation dedicates this initiative to the leadership and memory of Hubert Williams. Williams served as the president of the National Police Foundation (formerly Police Foundation) from 1985 – 2012 – becoming the longest serving president in the organization’s 50-year history.

To learn more about the Council and to read the full bios of the Council members, please visit: https://www.policefoundation.org/national-council-on-policing-reforms-and-race.

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To learn more about how to get involved and be a part of NPF’s yearlong celebration that includes virtual events and funding and engagement opportunities, please contact Ms. Martin at TMartin@policefoundation.org.

About the National Police Foundation:

The National Police Foundation (NPF) is a non-partisan and non-membership 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to advancing the impact and delivery of police services through reforms and enhancements guided by innovation and science. For the last 50 years, the Foundation has led the development of research on all aspects of policing and leads the way in promoting and sharing evidence-based practices and innovation among law enforcement. The Foundation works with communities across the U.S. and internationally to provide research, training, and technical assistance relating to community engagement and problem solving, promoting safety and healthy organizations and officers, the reduction and prevention of violence, and equitable and fair justice for all. For more information, please visit the National Police Foundation website at www.policefoundation.org.

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