Administration

Trump-created commission offers recommendations on policing

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A commission created by President Trump to study how to improve the criminal justice system recommended requiring all police departments to have independent agencies investigate serious use-of-force incidents and expanding the use of technology in fighting crime.

The 332-page report included 170 recommendations to restore faith in police forces in the U.S.

Attorney General William Barr announced the policing commission in January of 2020, pursuant to an executive order from Trump, to “conduct a modern fresh evaluation of the salient issues affecting American law enforcement and the communities they protect.” The panel was instructed to “study crime—how we can reduce it and how we can restore the public confidence in law enforcement to its rightful place.” 

Since then, the U.S. was rocked by a summer of protests demanding racial justice and an end to police brutality.

The commission’s findings were first reported by The Washington Post. The report was released late last year.

The commission wrote three recommendations on “Promoting Transparency and Accountability When Officers Use Force.”

They recommended that police departments have “publicly available protocols for conducting administrative investigations of alleged officer misconduct and any uses of forces,” educating communities of use-of-force policies and creating independent agencies that meet “minimum training and accreditation standards” to investigate use-of-force incident that result in death or serious harm.

The commission proposed technology could be used for improving the recruitment of training of officers, maintaining qualified immunity for officers who are sued and bearing down on prosecutors who say they will not enforce laws they do not agree with.

The commission’s report also touched on juvenile justice, victim services, immigration and mental health.

The President’s Commission on Law Enforcement and the Administration of Justice was made up of 18 members of law enforcement. Civil rights groups criticized the lack of diversity in the commission and the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund (LDF) sued the commission and then-Attorney General William Barr for violating a federal laws on advisory commissions.

A Washington judge found that the law had in fact been violated and required a disclaimer be added to the report indicating that the commission was not fairly balanced, had not filed a charter and had not provided enough notice of its meetings.

Some experts who spoke to the Post said the commission’s lack of diversity was made clear in the report.

“While the Commission’s report gives a nod to the importance of trust in keeping communities safe, and also acknowledges that law enforcement cannot address these issues alone, the group’s membership, focus and process failed to embrace these all-important starting points,” justice reform advocate Miriam Krinsky told the Post.

President-elect Joe Biden has said that he will create his own policing commission, the Post notes, which leaves the future of the commission’s recommendations in question.

Puneet Cheema of the LDF told he Post that “the Biden administration should immediately disavow and rescind the report,” saying it, “fails entirely to consider the role of bias and discrimination in policing.” She pointed out that the report appeared to increase accountability for juveniles while also decreasing accountability for officers.

The killing of George Floyd occurred in the midst of the commission’s hearings and the commission acknowledged this writing that the government must create policies that “promote public trust in law enforcement, but also deter abuses by police that undermine that trust.”

 

The Post notes that two district attorneys who had worked on the commission resigned after they were not allowed to see the final report and claimed the commission had failed to address their concerns regarding the lack of diversity in its membership or input.

Tags Donald Trump Donald Trump George Floyd Joe Biden Joe Biden police reform policing in the U.S. William Barr

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