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Obama’s 21st Century Policing Task Force Turned In A Critical Report Six Years Ago. Has Anything Changed Since Then?

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Public safety veteran Dr. Cedric Alexander says thorough police reform is critical to American public safety.

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Six years ago, President Obama’s 21st Century Policing Task Force wrote a report detailing the necessary components of police reform. Since then, preventive methods like body cameras have been implemented to hold officers accountable. However, even with these changes, last summer’s protests made it clear there is still a need for wide-spread reform in policing.

Public safety, quite frankly, is not just law enforcement. It’s not safe if there is lead in the water pipes. It’s not safe if people don’t have housing. It’s not safe if there aren’t employment opportunities.” —Dr. Cedric Alexander


Listen: Dr. Cedric Alexander on where police reform needs to start.


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Dr. Cedric Alexander was a member of President Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing. He recently wrote an op-ed titled “Which side are you on? The question every police officer must answer.” He says the findings from Obama’s Policing Task Force are just as pertinent today as they were six years ago. ”We have a lot to be concerned about. Progress has been made, we would like to think. But yet, still, when we look and see many of the events that are going on today … it still brings about a great amount of concern for us about policing.”

Alexander says any police reform, which could have resulted from that report, was not followed through by the following administration. ”The (Trump) administration had an opportunity to hold up that report … You had a previous attorney general, Jeff Sessions, who pretty much threw that report in the garbage can.”

Many advocates for police reform have called to ‘“defund the police,” but Alexander says he doesn’t necessarily agree with this sentiment. “I do not think that police departments need to be ‘defunded.’ What police departments need to be is reimagined, reorganized …. Police cannot do it by themselves. We need to decide what policing needs to look like in the 21st century.”

Alexander says funding community resources should also be considered crime prevention, not just the police. “Public safety, quite frankly, is not just law enforcement. It’s not safe if there is lead in the water pipes. It’s not safe if people don’t have housing. It’s not safe if there aren’t employment opportunities.”

Web story written by Nora Rhein

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