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Obama to use executive order to launch task force on policing

By Matt Bradwell
Obama to use executive order to launch task force on policing
President Barack Obama is seated next to co-chairs of the newly created Task Force on 21st Century Policing, Philadelphia Police Chief Charles Ramsey and Laurie Robinson during a meeting with elected officials, community and faith leaders, and law enforcement officials, to discuss how communities and law enforcement can work together to build trust to strengthen neighborhoods across the country, in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington, D.C., on Nov. 30, 2014. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

WASHINGTON, Dec. 19 (UPI) -- In an effort to smooth community and police relations, President Barack Obama will issue an executive order launching a 10-person task force on policing.

"Recent events in Ferguson, Staten Island, Cleveland and around the country have highlighted the importance of strong, collaborative relationships between local police and the communities they protect," the White House said in a statement.

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"As the nation has observed, trust between law enforcement agencies and the people they protect and serve is essential to the stability of our communities, the integrity of our criminal justice system, and the safe and effective delivery of policing services."

Chaired by Philadelphia Chief of Police Charles Ramsey and George Mason University professor of criminology Laurie Robinson, the task force will "examine, among other issues, how to strengthen public trust and foster strong relationships between local law enforcement and the communities that they protect, while also promoting effective crime reduction."

The task force will have eight minority members - six are black and two are Latino.

In addition to Ramsey and Robinson, the task force is composed of Brooklyn-based community organizer Jose Lopez; executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative Bryan Stevenson; executive director of Teach For America in St. Louis Brittany Packnett; former King County, Wash., Sheriff Susan Rahr; Yale Law School professor Tracey Meares; civil rights activist Constance Rice; Tucson Police Chief Roberto VillaseƱor; law enforcement attorney Sean Smoot; and DeKalb County, Ga. COO for Public Safety Cedric L. Alexander.

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They will routinely meet with and hear testimony from community and law enforcement leaders around the country to determine actionable changes to improve trust between minority communities and the police tasked with keeping them safe.

"We all recognize that these problems will not be solved swiftly, and we can't prevent every controversial case from happening," Ron Davis, who will serve as the task force's executive director under Ramsey and Robinson, told The Washington Post.

"The focus is on [law enforcement], and they understand that there is a lack of trust and understand why."

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