President Obama should convene a national summit meeting to create a substantial new campaign to end the plague of African-Americans being killed by police; to improve relationships between communities and police departments; to lower the tensions that now engulf far too many towns across America; to protect police from crimes that may be committed against them; and to bring race relations in America into the 21st century.
The latest horror, in which Americans are sickened to watch a video where they see a black man killed by a police officer by multiple shots in the back while he was running away, violates everything America stands for and outrages Americans of all races in all communities. These kinds of killings must end. The overwhelming majority of police officers and black Americans are good, honorable and law-abiding people, but the sheer number and brutality of these killings shock the conscience of the American community.
A presidential summit should last two or three days. It should bring together black and Hispanic citizens, civil rights leaders, police chiefs and police unions, religious leaders of all denominations and members of Congress from both parties who can enact a program to implement dramatic measures the summit can agree on.
I long ago called for cameras to be worn by all police officers and placed on all police cars. It is unconscionable that this long-overdue reform has taken so long to be implemented while these killings continue to happen. These cameras should be provided with a crash program to get this done, now.
The president and Congress should agree on a substantial new program to provide matching funds to state and local governments to recruit, hire and train new black and Hispanic police officers to serve in largely black and Hispanic communities, and to provide dramatically enhanced training to all police officers.
A presidential summit can bring all constituent groups together and create a major plan of action that can be enacted within weeks and implemented promptly. What is happening today is an American tragedy that violates American principles of justice and the American idea of diverse people coming together in diverse nation.
The Civil War ended a century-and-a-half ago, and America recently commemorated the 50th anniversary of the civil rights marches in Selma, Ala. Yet racial divisions persist as a national challenge and it is time to bring Americans together to end these crimes and this crisis of confidence between American communities and American law enforcement.
Budowsky was an aide to former Sen. Lloyd Bentsen (D-Texas) and former Rep. Bill Alexander (D-Ark.), who was then chief deputy majority whip of the House. He holds an LL.M. degree in international financial law from the London School of Economics. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.