President Obama says it’s time for a “sustained conversation” about strengthening the relationship between police and the communities they serve.
The president met with Cabinet members, law enforcement officials, protest leaders, and young activists Monday about the policing issues raised by the fatal shooting of Michael Brown.
“This is not a problem simply of Ferguson, Missouri. This is a problem that is national. It is a solvable problem, but it is one that unfortunately spikes after one event and then fades into the background until something else happens.” Obama said. “What we need is a sustained conversation… to move forward in a constructive fashion.”
The issues raised in Ferguson have led the president to outline an executive order.
Obama is proposing new community policing initiatives that would significantly expand funding and training for local law enforcement, including up to 50,000 additional body worn cameras for law enforcement agencies. The proposed three-year $263 million investment package would increase use of body-worn cameras, expand training for law enforcement agencies, add more resources for police department reform, and multiply the number of cities where the Department of Justice facilitates community and local Law Enforcement Agency engagement.
One of Obama’s concerns is the issue of military equipment being utilized in the face of protests. Obama said he is preparing an executive order to track military equipment so that a militarized culture is not being built in local law enforcement. It will require federal agencies to review how police are provided with heavy equipment like armored vehicles.
The president has appointed a task force that will report back in 90 days with recommendations on best police practices that can be implemented at the federal, state, and local levels. “Task Force on 21st Century Policing” will be headed by Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey and George Mason University professor Laurie Robinson. Attorney General Eric Holder will be working with the task force to convene a series of meetings across the country.
During his speech Monday afternoon, Obama said past task forces have failed, but said “this time will be different because the president of the United States is deeply invested in making sure this time is different.”