Courtesy of Director Ronald L. Davis of the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services
I can recall the pride of the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing when the 11 outstanding members handed the final report to the president on May 18, 2015. The smiles and expressions on their faces while sitting in the White House spoke volumes about their accomplishment. That pride, however, was not simply because they delivered a report; it was also because the report represented a defining moment in American policing and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to redefine policing in a democratic society—a goal every member of the task force is committed to seeing through well beyond the completion of the report.
Their pride grew even stronger when the president sat down with the task force and began to discuss the importance of the recommendations and the report’s potential transformative impact on the field. The president made it clear that the report would not sit on a shelf, but would serve as a catalyst for the type of police reform needed in communities across the country.
On July 23, the White House and the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS Office) took a notable step toward that goal and co-hosted a forum on the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing. More than 150 participants—including representatives from law enforcement, elected officials and community partners representing more than 40 cities—attended the event. Throughout the full-day forum, senior administration officials joined attendees to discuss and share strategies for implementing the recommendations outlined in the task force report, and developed ideas that police and their communities across the country can use to enhance public safety while building trust.
Police chiefs, sheriffs, mayors, community leaders and other law enforcement professionals rolled up their sleeves to identify best practices and document implementation strategies to be included in a forthcoming publication that will serve as a national playbook for implementing the recommendations in the final task force report. The collaborations I witnessed were not merely impressive—they were truly inspiring.
I have often said that advancement of community policing is the key strategy for improving public safety and security in this nation, and if the collaboration and strategizing I observed yesterday is any indication of what the future holds, we are moving in the right direction. But there is still work to be done.
The COPS Office has already started to meet the challenges put forth by the task force and to implement recommendations outlined in the final report. The COPS Office will continue to build community policing capacity and help make the streets of America safer through its hiring grants. Our grants will also support programs aimed at building trust, reducing bias and helping law enforcement transform their agencies into departments that live up to the expectations of their communities.
To further assist the field in implementing the task force recommendations, the COPS Office has announced the creation of a new section within the COPS Office—the Policing Practices and Accountability Section—which will work closely with practitioners and researchers to provide technical assistance, identify industry best practices, provide crisis response services and develop strategies to best implement the recommendations in the field.
But we know that true change can only come from the field. The COPS Office is committed to helping the field advance the field.
We are therefore asking you to answer the president’s call to action and use your leadership skills to advance the task force recommendations. And as you do this work, please tell us how you are implementing the recommendations. We are eager to learn what you are doing in your communities and to find out how your agency is moving the law enforcement profession forward—whether it’s a new department policy designed to encourage citizen engagement, a social media tool that helps gauge community sentiment or solve crimes, a training program intended to reduce implicit bias or a targeted enforcement effort that has been effective in reducing crime while maintaining civic involvement.
Please visit the task force’s new website and tell us about your efforts.