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Know Your Rights
Source: USA Today
Subject: Immigration
Type: Media Coverage

Obama appoints task force on police practices

President Obama appointed members of a task force Thursday assigned to recommend police practices that can improve relations between officers and the people they serve, particularly in minority communities.

The president signed an executive order Thursday creating the Task Force on 21st Century Policing.

The task force, which includes officials from law enforcement, legal, academic, civil rights and non-profit organizations, will study methods that are working in different places and report back to Obama by March 2. The task force will terminate 30 days after it submits its report.

In the wake of protests over police killings of suspects, Obama is looking for ways to improve the criminal justice system and to “fortify public trust in it,” White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett said.

Obama created the task force amid demonstrations across the country after grand juries in Ferguson, Mo., and Staten Island, N.Y., declined to indict police officers in connection with the deaths of African American males.

In announcing the plan on Dec. 1, Obama said the group will “reach out and listen to law enforcement, and community activists and other stakeholders,” and make recommendations on the best ways to promote working together.

“How do they create accountability?” Obama said. “How do they create transparency? How do they create trust; and how can we at the federal level work with the state and local communities to make sure that some of those best practices get institutionalized.”

The task force will be chaired by Charles Ramsey, the police commissioner in Philadelphia, and Laurie Robinson, a former assistant attorney general who is now a professor at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va.

Ron Davis, director of the Justice Department’s Community Oriented Policing Services Office, will serve as the group’s executive director.

Other task force members:

• Jose Lopez, the lead organizer at Make the Road New York (MRNY), a Brooklyn-based non-profit community organization focused on civil rights, education changes and combating poverty.

• Bryan Stevenson, founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI), a private, non-profit organization headquartered in Montgomery, Ala.

• Brittany Packnett, the executive director of Teach For America in St. Louis, Mo., which is near Ferguson.

• Susan Rahr, executive director of the Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission.

• Tracey Meares, the Walton Hale Hamilton Professor of Law at Yale Law School.

• Constance Rice, a civil rights attorney and co-director of the Advancement Project, an organization she co-founded in 1999. In 2003, Rice was selected to lead a panel that investigated the largest police corruption scandal in Los Angeles Police Department history.

• Roberto Villaseñor, chief of police in Tucson, Ariz.

• Sean Smoot, director and chief counsel for the Police Benevolent & Protective Association of Illinois and the Police Benevolent Labor Committee

• Cedric L. Alexander, the deputy chief operating officer for public safety in DeKalb County, Ga, and also national president of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives.

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