Last week, the President’s Commission on Law Enforcement and the Administration of Justice continued its series of hearings on community engagement, with testimony from faith leaders, and held a hearing on policing culture.  The hearings were conducted via teleconference and featured expert witnesses who provided testimony and answered questions from the commissioners.

On Tuesday, June 23, 2020, the commission received testimony from Robin Engel, Ph.D., Professor, University of Cincinnati; Michael Ranalli, Chief (Retired), Glenville, New York, Police Department; Hampton (Virginia) Police Chief Terry Sult; and Springboro (Ohio) Police Chief Jeff Kruithoff.

The panelists discussed policing culture and reasonable use of force.  An overarching theme throughout the panel was the need to use evidence-based research to inform successful reforms regarding police use of force.

On Wednesday, June 24, 2020, the commission received testimony from Sheriff James McDonell (retired), Los Angeles (Calif.) County; Ronal Serpas, Superintendent of Police of the New Orleans Police Department (retired) and Professor with the Loyola University New Orleans Criminal Justice Department; Chief Robert White (retired), Denver Police Department; and Sheriff Mike Chitwood, Volusia (Fla.) County.

The panel focused on the use of force and culture change.  The panelists discussed the importance of leading by example within the department, especially with regards to new officers; integrating community policing values throughout an entire academy curriculum instead of teaching it as a standalone course; acknowledging that while no single police incident represents an entire department, nothing undermines years of work developing community trust as quickly as incidents where police use unnecessary or excessive force; and learning from the successes of other departments and agencies.

On Thursday, June 25, 2020, the commission received testimony from Jeff Ballabon, CEO B2 Strategic, Washington, DC; Rabbi Jack Moline, Executive Director, Interfaith Alliance, Washington DC; and Imam Talib Shareef, President of Masjid Muhammad, The Nation’s Mosque.

The panel focused on the relationship between religious minorities and law enforcement.  The panelists discussed the importance of building relationships with law enforcement at a community level in order to change dynamics; the need for law enforcement to take steps at every level to investigate and prevent hate-based crime, as well as hold officers accountable for engaging in racial or religious profiling, targeting, and surveillance; and the value of breaking stereotypes and “challenging the narrative.”

For more information on the commission, you can read the commission main page.

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