Highlights from the first Reimagining Policing workshop: Police Accountability and Reforms

good afternoon welcome to our reimagining policing pledge virtual workshop series uh which we’re proud to co-host with our friends and partners at cities united in the leadership conference on civil and human rights this workshop series is a part of our reimagining policing pledge that we launched with president obama last month to date more than 150 mayors have publicly committed to the pledge and we’re currently vetting hundreds more that put submissions in through our websites over the next 90 days we are honored to have the chance to support mayors and your teams uh that have committed to review and reform use of force policies is just the beginning can you talk about the key reforms that the leadership conference advocates for and as part of that the evolution of collusion reform that you’ve seen throughout your career as you’ve worked on this work there’s often a desire to go to one reform and hope that it’s going to solve all of our problems a lot of us saw the rush to body worn cameras as like the policy solution that was gonna save the day um and unfortunately policing just doesn’t work that way as is the case with many institutions that are complex um and that one of the reasons why the leadership conference actually launched this report and this initiative a year and a half ago called the new era of public safety is to aggregate the kind of best practices around the country that police departments are deploying everything from use of force and the ways in which use of force needs to be handled in the 21st century looking at de-escalation duty to intervene duty to provide medical aid looking at accountability systems without training at the front end and accountability at the back end none of these policies will make a difference there’s a difference between police reform and policing reform too often we focus on police reform which is suggesting that the vast majority of cops in this country are racist bad and we need a new batch of cops to come in versus policing reform is about the policing system recognizing structural racism to exist recognizing we have systemic failures stepping away from the bad apple argument and recognizing it’s not the food bad apples the barrel itself is very bad the system was designed for a specific purpose in the 40s 50s and 60s it was a system designed to enforce jim crow laws and black codes once we basically put making the officers the target of the anger not the individual behaviors but from the systemic point of view then we bring them to the table we’re going to reimagine public safety but we know they have a role in it to be able to say what is it that you should not do right now and what’s what’s the kind of resources we can then reallocate what is it that we should not be doing in the future and where should we then invest reallocation of those resources and then take a look at the systems that we do have and how do we restructure them so that we can erase structural racism we’ve found that oftentimes that data and science can be the table you can sit around and you can trust a process when you can’t trust each other right um the things that many of the activists and organizers are asking for the chiefs have been asking for for the last quarter century he asked us to do too much um we can’t possibly get trained for all of this i don’t want my officers responding when someone’s gotta overdose when someone’s worried about killing themselves imagine a gun or not the right set of resources so it turns out the interests of these two different groups are the same but the history between them makes it very difficult to trust so what i would recommend is you work backwards from the outcomes you want to see if it’s police reform measure justice well you bring up the fact that it’s not just one policy change um but it has to be a whole holistic systems change how do you suggest that like a mayor embark on such a thing just look at your departments around how your departments are in other social systems actually are resourced to deal with homelessness people in mental health issues school discipline you won’t find a police chief or a police officer that doesn’t understand pretty directly the degree to which they have become unwillingly the first responders on too many social issues because those are the laws that their state passed or that’s how the budget has kind of structured funding and resources there are ways to actually demonstrate a commitment to thinking more broadly about public safety by looking at some of these issues you got to have cultural change you got to have courage you got to have conversations right you got to start putting the the stakeholders that we talked about today in the room together to have uncomfortable conversations and facilitate those conversations and come up and co-create together you also have to have a driven community created plan that says what happens next says how those funds are reallocated that has real teeth with the community having a real say into policies in your police department and policies in in the city government or how

the police work and how you know the community is going to have fairness in the process make sure that in responding to the passions of your community that you understand that the community deserves a plan start to accumulate the facts that will allow you to put a responsible plan together we asked law enforcement to acknowledge the historical past i think mayors need to do the same thing you need to stand at your podium use your platform to acknowledge that there’s still structural racism in law enforcement it’s not an indictment when you’re officers it’s indictment on the system in which they’re operating that truth is very critical to moving forward every time we ignore our history we ignore what’s happening today we have fatal consequences you are where the rubber meets the road you have to be the one to be the truth-telling lead the reconciliation that we’ve never done and be able to challenge the system itself even because dismantling it and reconstructing it i’ve been in this game for 35 years and i’ve never seen a moment like this you