President drops in on Policing Forum
2016 White House Visits
I met with the Vice President's Chief of Staff today. We discussed future implementation of 21st Century policing recommendations and needs of law enforcement across the country.
I also briefed 140 chiefs and sheriffs about officer safety and wellness.
The blog below is from Jerry Abramson on the forum.
AUGUST 10, 2016 AT 11:30 AM ET BY JERRY ABRAMSON
This summer, the White House has convened over 300 local law enforcement agencies from around the country to discuss community policing.
Since 2009, President Obama has made it a priority to provide local law enforcement with the tools necessary to protect the public while ensuring their own safety and wellness. To maintain his commitment and ensure that we are working toward strengthening the trust between communities and law enforcement, the President launched the Task Force on 21st Century Policing, designed to identify best practices and develop meaningful solutions to help law enforcement agencies and communities strengthen trust and collaboration, while ushering the nation into the next phase of community-focused policing. In May of 2015, the Task Force released a report with 59 recommendations for reform.
In June, in cooperation with the Department of Justice’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, the White House began to host a series of briefings with local law enforcement agencies to help agencies learn how to implement the Task Force’s recommendations.
Each week, nearly 100 police officers of all ranks visited the White House and heard from experts on topics such as implicit bias, officer safety and wellness, and using social media to improve public trust with the communities they serve. In addition, the officers received information on how to join the President’s Police Data Initiative, a community of practice that enables police departments to collect and publish data on policing activities with the hope of beginning a dialogue within their community.
Today, we are hosting our sixth briefing at the White House and are announcing that on September 8th, 16th, and 28th we will host another round of briefings. If your law enforcement agency is interested in attending a briefing, please email: 21stCenturyPolicing@who.eop.gov.
But more importantly, these briefings provided an opportunity for local law enforcement officials to learn best practices from their peers. Here are a few examples:
• Sergeant Jennifer Carpenter of the Mount Vernon (NY) Police Department is a great example, serving as the department’s coordinator of the Task Force on 21st Century Policing. In her role, she works to implement the oversight, technology, and social media pillars of the Task Force’s report. Her department has been actively engaging the community to foster positive relationships in the community.
• Wilmington (DE) Police Chief Bobby Cummings is another shining light, and recently spoke at one of the briefings about his work to strengthen community policing and improve technology within his department. Chief Cummings spoke about how, with the help of Department of Justice funding, he has been able to train his staff on officer safety and wellness so that his officers come to work every day with the right “heart set” and mindset to protect their community.
• Finally, agencies such as the Fluvanna County Sheriff’s Office in Virginia have hosted “coffee with a cop,” which brings officers together with residents to learn about the community’s challenges and concerns. During these meetings, Chief Eric Hess described how he listens to the community and discusses recent police incidents so that residents fully understand officer responses.
In the weeks since the tragedies in Dallas, Baton Rouge, and St. Paul, all Americans have been reminded why a criminal justice system that lives up to our values is so integral to ensuring our women and men in blue can protect our communities safely. As the President said in his weekly address, “There is no contradiction between honoring police and recognizing the racial disparities that exist in our criminal justice system, and trying to fix these discrepancies.”
That is why organizations across the country, including the U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM) and the National League of Cities (NLC), committed to support local elected officials, law enforcement officials and communities to have these important discussions. Following the President’s meeting with faith leaders, local and state elected officials, activists, and civil rights leaders in July, the USCM and NLC committed to encourage cities to host 100 convenings within 30 days. Today, they announced that 105 communities across the country have either already hosted or will host conversations, or are engaging in other efforts to increase trust between the police with the communities they serve. Additionally, USCM released a report today detailing efforts in 49 cities to hold community conversations and further strengthen police-community relations.
To build on these conversations and the work of the 21st Century Policing Task Force, the White House will continue to engage law enforcement through these briefings and promote officer safety and wellness, as we work to rebuild trust between police and the communities they serve. The Administration also will continue supporting the work of local organizations and leaders to bring together communities around the country to discuss criminal justice reform, community policing, and how to strengthen neighborhood bonds. In fact, this week, White House officials are meeting with a group of state legislators at the 2016 National Conference of State Legislatures Legislative Summit in Chicago, IL to discuss actions they can take at the state level to encourage reform and bring communities together.
The President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing and the recommendations in its report are only the beginning of a larger conversation. Communities and police agencies must push forward to ensure that our justice system is safe, fair, and protects all Americans.
Learn more about the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing.
See the full list of law enforcement agencies and organizations that have participated in the briefings on the recommendations of the President's Task Force on 21st Century Policing.
Deputy Assistant to the President and Director of Intergovernmental Affairs
COPS Director Ron Davis spoke to police chiefs and sheriffs from across the country on 21st Century Policing in America.
The day Arkansas law enforcement lost a protector and saw another one injured in a shooting following a domestic dispute I spoke about the dangers of these kinds of calls.
I produced a report for the DOJ: Deadly Calls and Fatal Encounters. It analyzed US Law Enforcement line of duty deaths when officers responded to dispatched calls for service from 2010-2014.
Remarks by the President at a Drop-By of 21st Century Policing Event
South Court Auditorium
THE PRESIDENT: Hello, everybody. Have a seat. Please, have a seat. I just wanted to come by to say thank you for being here and the extraordinary work that you do each and every day. I was a little bit delayed -- some of you are aware there were shootings in Germany. And we don’t yet know exactly what’s happening there, but obviously our hearts go out to those who may have been injured. It’s still an active situation. And Germany is one of our closest allies, so we are going to pledge all the support that they may need in dealing with these circumstances.
It’s a good reminder of something that I’ve said over the last couple of weeks, which is our way of life -- our freedoms, our ability to go about our business every day, raising our kids and seeing them grow up and graduate from high school -- and now about to leave their dad -- (laughter) -- I’m sorry, I’m getting a little too personal -- getting a little too personal there -- (laughter) -- that depends on law enforcement. It depends on the men and women in uniform every single day who are, under some of the most adverse circumstances imaginable at times, making sure to keep us safe.
And obviously, we have gone through a really tough time these last couple of weeks on a whole bunch of fronts. And most recently, I had the tough job of talking to the widows of those police officers who had been killed in Baton Rouge. And I know that for men and women in uniform, each loss like that is like a loss in your own family.
But I wanted to come by to make sure that all of you knew how grateful the American people are for your service, how appreciative we are of your sacrifice. As a general proposition, you guys are not looking for the spotlight; you just want to do your jobs and keep your community safe. And you also want to come home to your own families at the end of a tough day. And for you to put yourself out there like that is one of the greatest gifts that you could give your fellow citizens.
So our job is to support you in every way that we can. It is my view -- and, let’s be honest, sometimes this is a controversial view -- that one of the best ways to provide support to our police officers is to make sure that we are addressing potential underlying tensions between officers and the communities where they’re serving; that pretending sometimes that those tensions aren’t there is not going to make things better. But when we’re able to bring people together and strengthen those bonds, then that’s going to make the lives of police officers on a day-to-day basis just a little bit easier, and it’s going to make our streets safer, and it’s going to create the kind of atmosphere whereby we continue to bring crime rates down to near-historic levels.
And I made this point at a press conference yesterday -- because we’re in political season and there’s a lot of discussion -- the fact of the matter is, is that as disturbing as some of the upticks in crime that we’ve seen in some of our cities around the country, including my hometown of Chicago, violent crime is substantially lower today than it was 10 years ago, 20 years ago, or 30 years ago.
Over the last four or five years, we’ve seen violent crime rates that we haven’t seen since the 1960s. That’s not an accident. That’s in part because police departments around the country have gotten really smart about preventing crime and are working with communities in all kinds of smart ways. And we can build on that progress, but it’s going to require us to do exactly what you are doing today, and that is trying to figure out how we can work together to ensure that our police departments and our communities are aligned in what we all want, which is families that are safe, people abiding by the law, making sure that our kids are growing up in an environment where they can go to school and get an education and get a job and raise families of their own without fearing that somehow they’re going to be struck down by a bullet, or harassed and peddled drugs to by somebody who is intent on breaking the law.
So this is the fourth in a series of gatherings with law enforcement that we’ve organized just since June. It builds on the work that we did in our Task Force for 21st Century Policing. My hope is that it’s been useful in giving you some tools and best practices to give you a sense of how departments on the cutting-edge are using data to train officers and engage with the community.
We also are hopefully hearing from you about what you’ve learned in your experience works and doesn’t work, and where the federal government can partner with your departments and state and local law enforcement officers across the country to do even better.
Because the fact is there’s exceptional policing being done every single day. We’ve seen departments organize community forums and panels and cookouts to bring officers together with civil rights leaders and activists and young people. Many of you, I’m sure, saw the viral videos of police playing pickup basketball with kids, or dancing the Nae Nae -- which wasn’t, you know -- (laughter) -- that was a brave officer who did that. (Laughter.) There are a lot more examples, though, that don’t find their way onto Twitter feeds.
So I want not only to encourage all of you to implement the task force recommendations in ways that are tailored to your community and your needs, but I also want you to share with us things that you think work that can make a difference. Because our job really is as a convener. The federal government is not responsible for day-to-day policing of our communities, but we do have the ability to project best practices and let people share what they’ve seen that works.
And we do have some pretty good ideas about how to facilitate more discussions in your own communities. We are working closely with a lot of departments about how to collect data and do that better, and what we’ve learned with respect to training that can make police work safer and more effective.
And part of the reason I wanted to stop by here is, invariably, what happens is the media’s attention shifts. There’s a tragedy and a spate of police officers down, or a shooting involving police, and it captures the media’s attention. And then, suddenly, two months from now, there’s a different story -- except in one of your departments somebody is still getting shot, it just doesn’t warrant attention anymore, apparently, because it’s not part of the narrative.
And what I promised both those who were angry about Minnesota and Baton Rouge, but I also promised the widows and families and children of folks in Dallas and Baton Rouge, was that this is something we need to care about all the time. This is something we are going to sustain. This is not a one-off. We’re going to just keep on at this. And progress is not always going to be as quick as we’d like. And there are going to be misunderstandings sometimes, and there are going to be temptations for politics to fan the flames of division instead of trying to bring people together.
But, look, I’m only going to be President for six more months, but I’m a citizen who’s going to depend on law enforcement for the rest of my life. And I’ve got two daughters, and hopefully, way in the future, some grandchildren who are going to depend on law enforcement. (Laughter.) And so I’ve got a big stake in this. And I’m going to make sure that I can do everything I can to move this in a positive direction so that, out of some heartbreaking tragedy, we can look back five years from now, 10 years from now, 15 years from now, and say, you know what, we kept getting better, and police officers are honored, their communities are supporting them, they are safer, and those communities truly recognize that they are being served and protected by the men and women in blue.
So thank you very much, everybody. God bless you. (Applause.)
3:02 P.M. EDT
Community Safety Institute
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