Recent events in Ferguson, Missouri and around the country have grabbed the attention of the nation and the world, and have highlighted the importance of strong, collaborative relationships between local police and the communities that they protect.
Today, the Administration announced new steps we’re taking to strengthen the relationships between law enforcement agencies and the communities they are obligated to protect and serve, including:
- Advancing the use of body worn cameras and promoting proven community policing initiatives
- Creating a new task force to promote expansion of the community-oriented policing model, which encourages strong relationships between law enforcement and the communities that they serve as a proven method of fighting crime
- Reforming how the federal government equips state and local law enforcement – particularly with military-style equipment
Get more details about these new actions below.
Increasing the use of body worn cameras, and improving community policing
The President has proposed a three-year, $263 million investment package that will:
- Increase police officers’ use of body worn cameras
- Expand training for law enforcement agencies (LEAs)
- Add more resources for police department reform
- Multiply the number of cities where the Department of Justice facilitates community and local LEA engagement
Part of the proposal is a new Body Worn Camera Partnership Program, which would provide a 50 percent match to states and localities that purchase body worn cameras and requisite storage. In fact, the proposed $75 million, three-year investment could help purchase 50,000 body worn cameras.
As noted in a recent report released by Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) and the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF), evidence shows that body worn cameras help strengthen accountability and transparency, and that officers and civilians both act in a more positive manner when they’re aware that a camera is present.
Building public trust while keeping crime rates down
The President is planning to create a Task Force on 21st Century Policing, chaired by Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey, who also serves as President of the Major Cities Chiefs Police Association; and Laurie Robinson, professor at George Mason University and former Assistant Attorney General for DOJ’s Office of Justice Programs.
The task force – which will include law enforcement representatives and community leaders, among others – has a threefold purpose:
- Build on the extensive research that’s being conducted by DOJ’s Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS)
- Examine how to promote effective crime reduction while building public trust
- Prepare a report and recommendations within 90 days of the task force’s creation
Reforming how the federal government equips local law enforcement
In August, the President ordered a review of federal funding and programs that help equip state and local law enforcement agencies (LEAs). Over the course of the review, the White House explored whether existing federal programs:
- Provide LEAs with equipment that is appropriate for what their communities need
- Ensure that LEAs have adequate policies in place for use of the equipment, and that their personnel are trained and certified on how to use this equipment
- Encourage LEAs to employ practices and standards that prevent misuse or abuse of this equipment
The final report, released today, finds inconsistencies in how these federal programs are structured, implemented, and audited. The report also identifies four areas of further focus that could help ensure that these programs help maximize the safety and security of both police officers and their communities:
- Local community engagement
- Federal coordination and oversight
- Training requirements
- The community-policing model
In light of this review, President Obama is planning to issue an Executive Order directing relevant agencies to work together and with law enforcement and civil rights and civil liberties organizations to develop specific recommendations within four months.