Obama’s Police Task Force: A Police Love Fest
The Alternative Universe of the President’s Task Force on Policing
Video Below Kymone Freeman’s Testimony: “We need community control of police.”
While attending the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing”s first townhall session held at the Newsuem, four blocks from the hollow dome of the nation’s capital, I was struck by the sheer love fest of hollow words being exchanged from the task force and many of the organizations, experts and mayors that continuously praised law enforcement officials.
I spent a full day from 9 to 5 listening to testimony to testimony detailing the need for additional training or the downward spiral of crime rates and the branded narrative of police officers putting their lives on the line every single day. Despite the recent police shootings in NYC and contrary to popular belief, in terms of the most dangerous jobs in America, police officers don’t even place in the top ten. Cab drivers have more dangerous jobs than police officers and they rarely, if ever, kill innocent people.
Despite this fact, Richard Beary President of the International Association of Chiefs of Police told a personal story of how as a child he saw Vietnam Veterans returning home from War only to be called baby killers or spit on. He compared that with the treatment of police officers in general in the current political climate.
Sam Walker, Professor of Criminal Justice at the University of Nebraska-Omaha went further to say that, “Skin Color doesn’t matter. If you have a bad department, its a bad department.” The latter notion was openly disputed by Jennifer Eberhardt, Associate Professor of Psychology at Stanford University and recent recipient of the famed MacArthur fellowship’s “Genius grant” who offered her award winning study on how race alters perception especially in the criminal justice context and stressed the need for Implicit Bias Training.
Sherrilyn Ifill President and Director-Counsel NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund said it best, “When a cop rolls up and shoots a 12 year old kid in 2 seconds, then something is wrong.” Unfortunately, few people on the Task Force or those who testified and none of the Law Enforcement Officials, including the President of the Fraternal Order of Police, seem to think so.
“There is a crisis between police and communities of color” said Carmen Perez Executive Director of the The Gathering for Justice. Whether or not the purpose of the President’s Task Force is to continue a policy of Benign Neglect by circling the wagons to prevent any true radical police reforms while providing lip service to a decades old issue remains to be seen.