Source: United States Department of Justice
Last week, the President’s Commission on Law Enforcement and the Administration of Justice continued its hearing on community engagement and held another hearing on research perspectives in criminal justice. The hearings were conducted via teleconference and featured expert witnesses who provided testimony and answered questions from the commissioners.
On Thursday, June 18, 2020, the commission received testimony from Scott Turner, Executive Director of the President’s Opportunity Zone Revitalization Council; Rev. Markel Hutchins, President & Chief Executive Officer of MovementForward, and; Rev. Charles Harrison, Senior Pastor, Barnes United Methodist Church, Indianapolis, Indiana, and President of the Indianapolis Ten Point Coalition.
The panelists discussed the role of community engagement in the criminal justice system. Each panelist testified to the overarching goal of building trust between law enforcement and communities, especially in high crime neighborhoods. Mr. Turner discussed the federal government’s role in fostering economic development in distressed communities, while Reverend Hutchins testified to the impact of getting to know one another across communities to break through stereotypes. Reverend Harrison spoke about engaging with community members, especially those with past criminal justice system contact, to get feedback about law enforcement, while also engaging law enforcement leadership. Eventually, Reverend Harrison was able to facilitate small group dialogues between young men in the communities and law enforcement officers to help bridge divides.
On Friday, June 19, 2020, the commission received testimony from Geoffrey Alpert, Ph.D., Professor, University of South Carolina; Gary Cordner, Ph.D., Academic Director, Baltimore Police Department; Sarah Guardiola, Chief Executive Officer, Skyway Leadership Institute, and; John M. MacDonald, Ph.D., Professor, University of Pennsylvania.
The panelists discussed research perspectives in criminal justice. Professor Alpert testified about the importance of knowing as much as possible about policing, so that shortcomings can be identified in policies, training, supervision, and systems of accountability. Professor Cordner provided recommendations to improve American policing – measuring what matters, evidence-based policing, and police education. Ms. Guardiola discussed how programs that partner youth with cops, educators, and other stakeholders, can be models of success for bridging divides between the community and law enforcement. Professor MacDonald testified about how place-based programs and policies can incentive reinvestment in high crime places, changing the psychical environment of disadvantaged places and generating health and public safety benefits.
For more information on the commission, please visit: https://www.justice.gov/ag/presidential-commission-law-enforcement-and-administration-justice.
Audio recordings and transcripts of the hearings will be posted online once available.