We really need this like we need another 18 trillion in debt. If ever any administration attacked the underpinnings of our government, this one topped it. It’s honestly not a new phenomenon, it’s just much more aggressive now.
“We have a great opportunity… to really transform how we think about community law enforcement relations,” President Obama said as the report was released Monday.
“We need to seize that opportunity… this is something that I’m going to stay very focused on in the months to come,” he added.
The president’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing calls for a series of changes in the way community police departments operate and offers a plan to tie federal funding to cooperation with the changes.
“The U.S. Department of Justice, through the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services [COPS] and Office of Justice Programs, should provide technical assistance and incentive funding to jurisdictions with small police agencies that take steps towards shared services, regional training, and consolidation,” the report states.
The task force report contains a six-pillar plan for law enforcement agencies throughout the nation. The pillars include:
- Building trust and legitimacy
- Policy and oversight
- Technology and social media
- Community policing and crime reduction
- Training and education
- Officer wellness and safety
While suggestions outlined under the pillars involving trust, legitimacy and oversight could have a positive impact on citizen civil rights during police encounters, other ideas in the have led critics to worry about a creeping national police force.
For instance, the report calls for the federal government to “support the development of partnerships with training facilities across the country to promote consistent standards for high quality training and establish training innovation hubs.”
The report further states: “Federal funding would be a powerful incentive to these designated academies to conduct the necessary research to develop and implement the highest quality curricula focused on the needs of 21st century American policing, along with cutting edge delivery modalities.”
In addition to calling for more federal involvement in training local police, the report calls for increased information sharing between local and federal law enforcement agencies.
“Inconsistent or non-existent standards also lead to isolated and fractured information systems that cannot effectively manage, store, analyze, or share their data with other systems. As a result, much information is lost or unavailable — which allows vital information to go unused and have no impact on crime reduction efforts,” the report states. “As one witness noted, the development of mature crime analysis and CompStat processes allows law enforcement to effectively develop policy and deploy resources for crime prevention, but there is a lack of uniformity in data collection throughout law enforcement, and only patchwork methods of near real-time information sharing exist. These problems are especially critical in light of the threats from terrorism and cybercrime.”
Part of the information-sharing increase should be facilitated by the development of a national public safety broadband network for law enforcement use only, the report says.
“A national public safety broadband network which creates bandwidth for the exclusive use of law enforcement, the First Responder Network (FirstNet) is considered a game-changing public safety project, which would allow instantaneous communication in even the most remote areas whenever a disaster or incident occurs,” the report says. “It can also support many other technologies, including video transmission…”
Critics of the plan have pointed out that attaching the recommendations put forth to federal funding mirrors the way in which the federal government recently increased its control over education with Common Core.
And President Obama has already hinted that he expects the policing plan to be controversial.
“There’s some good answers to be had if we don’t make this a political football or sensationalize it, but rather really focus on getting the job done,” he told reporters. “So I appreciate everybody’s efforts. I’m going to be focused on it. I hope you will be, too.”
Read the full report here.