Former Obama Justice Official: Police Department Culture Matters
Clark comes from the perspective of having worked in the Department of Justice under the Obama administration. During that time she worked on changing America’s law enforcement systems to embrace community in new ways.
Under the Obama administration, there was a push within the Department of Justice to rethink policing.
“Co-producing public safety, that doesn’t only help shape law enforcement policy but it helps the public.” — Melanca Clark, Hudson-Weber Foundation
It took the form of the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, or COPS, and from 2014 to 2016, the leader of that program was Melanca Clark. Clark joins Detroit Today with Stephen Henderson to discuss her time in that role and how she views this moment of protest and calls for the defunding of police departments in Detroit and beyond.
Listen: What can we learn from the woman who led an Obama era effort to overhaul America’s law enforcement?
Melanca Clark is currently the CEO and President of the Hudson-Webber Foundation. Between 2014 and 2016, Clark devised funding strategies and partnerships to advance community policing and police reform.
“This horrific incident of police brutality. But that’s really the front door to the system that has brutalized people of color, and that includes penalizing over fees and fines.”
Hudson says that when the footage of George Floyd’s death was released, she noticed something that may have gone overlooked by most people: Floyd’s death was “horrific, but what is also clear is the officer was gazing at spectators. I would put that in the context of what’s happening at the police department,” she says, adding that an internal working environment that promotes respect can have a positive ripple effect when officers go out policing communities throughout the country.
“Co-producing public safety, that doesn’t only help shape law enforcement policy but it helps the public,” says Clark. “There’s not a silver bullet and this conversation starts with this horrific incident of police brutality. But that’s really the front door to the system that has brutalized people of color, and that includes penalizing over fees and fines,” she says, noting that for African Americans knowing one’s own rights still doesn’t guarantee protections.
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