For Immediate Release
April 4, 2014
CONTACT: Dean Kueter
New York City, New York Ė Today the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) convened law enforcement and civil rights leaders on the topic of building trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve. This first in a series of events from the COPS Office is designed to answer President Obamaís call to action to support men and boys of color in his My Brotherís Keeper Initiative.
Under Director Ronald L. Davisí leadership, the COPS Office has made building trust in communities one of its top priorities, and is committed to assisting law enforcement agencies enhance relationships in the communities they serve, particularly in communities of color.
COPS Office Director Davis said, "Law enforcement plays a central role in looking after the safety and well-being of everyone in the community, actively ensuring the public has access to the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." Davis continued, "Law enforcement has a unique opportunity to play a major leadership role in changing the historic paradigm of inequity when it comes to young men and boys of color and our criminal justice system."
The Presidentís initiative, My Brotherís Keeper, is a call to action to invest in collaborative, multi-disciplinary approaches to build ladders of opportunity and unlock the full potential of boys and young men of color. During the forum, Tony West, Associate Attorney General of the United States and the Departmentís third ranking official, announced the creation of the National Center for Building Community Trust and Justice in response to that call. The National Center for Building Community Trust and Justice includes goals to explore, advance, assess, and disseminate information about strategies intended to enhance procedural justice, reduce implicit bias, and support racial reconciliation in communities of color. The Department intends for this initiative to build on initial work in these areas by considering, testing, and refining strategies to expand theories about procedural justice, bias reduction, and racial reconciliation throughout the criminal justice system.
Davis said, "Not only do I welcome the creation of this new Center; I also thank Associate Attorney General West for choosing this event as the forum for this important announcement. This will help strengthen the bond between law enforcement and the communities they serve, especially communities of color." Davis continued, "I am not the first to point out that the disproportionate number of Black and Hispanic young men who are involved in the criminal justice system brings to question the very legitimacy of the system and undermines family and community stability."
Community policing is an essential part of any effort to build trust in communities of color. The forum, bringing the collective experiences of police chiefs, community activists, civil rights organizations and civic leaders from across the country to bear on this problem, identified ways in which law enforcement and the community, especially communities of color, can work together to strengthen their relationship and enhance public safety for the good of all. Participants heard success stories from jurisdictions that have already begun this important work so that they can build upon those successes and take these important lessons back to their own jurisdictions. The 75 attendees discussed their experiences in this arena, the work that lies ahead, and next steps.