- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 18, 2014

President Obama on Thursday signed an executive order officially creating a “Task Force on 21st Century Policing,” a high-level group that will report directly to the president with recommendations on how to strengthen ties between law enforcement and the communities they serve.

Mr. Obama first announced the task earlier this month on the heels of unrest in Ferguson, Missouri and New York City, where the deaths of black men at the hands of white police officers further fractured ties between police departments and citizens.

The task force will be chaired by Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey and Laurie Robinson, a professor of criminology, law and society at George Mason University. It will include nine other members and is scheduled to make recommendations to Mr. Obama by March 2, administration officials said.

“The bottom line is this — the type of trust that is necessary to ensure the stability of our communities, the integrity of our criminal justice system and the ability to fight and prevent crime in our neighborhoods is essential,” White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett told reporters on a conference call. “We’re going to see what we can do at the federal level … with the intent of improving the criminal justice system.”

Ron Davis, director of the Justice Department’s Community Oriented Policing Services Office, will serve as the executive director of the task force.

Separate from the task force named Thursday, Mr. Obama has ordered a review of the militarization of police, an issue which came to the fore following unrest in Ferguson and a law enforcement response seen by many as heavy-handed.

The other members of the task force are: Jose Lopez, lead organizer a Brooklyn nonprofit Make the Road New York; Bryan Stevenson, founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative; Brittany Packnett, executive director of Teach For America in St. Louis; Susan Rahr, executive director of the Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission; Tracey Meares, a Yale Law School professor; Constance Rice, a civil rights attorney and co-director of the Advancement Project; Roberto Villasenor, Tucson chief of police; Sean Smoot, director and chief counsel for the Police Benevolent and Protection Association of Illinois; and Cedric Alexander, deputy chief operating officer for public safety in DeKalb County, Georgia.

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