Washington, DC – Acknowledging the urgent need to address racially-biased practices, the United States Conference of Mayors (USCM) Working Group on Police Reform and Racial Justice today released core principles for policing. The principles are intended to establish a new compact between people and the police, restore trust and accountability, rebuild legitimacy and reimagine policing in the country.
The Working Group, led by Chicago Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot, released the principles during the Criminal and Social Justice’s Standing Committee Meeting at the USCM 88th Annual Meeting and positioned the guidelines as the blueprint for a comprehensive police reform framework and set of recommendations to be announced next month. That framework will be rooted in the goal of advancing policing practices that respect and protect human life and ensure safety for all. The Committee reported out a policy resolution endorsing The Working Group’s Statement of Principles.
In addition to taking into account the public outcry around racially-biased police practices, the principles also set the stage to address concerns that police departments have been far too long responsible for social services and functions that can be better addressed by others.
“Issues surrounding police violence and racial discrimination are generational and far-reaching. While these ills have plagued our communities for far too long, it is within our reach to repair what is broken,” said Lori E. Lightfoot, Mayor of Chicago, IL and Chair of USCM’s Criminal and Social Justice Standing Committee. “As we set budget priorities and seek to redefine the role of local police officers in cities across the United States, local officials must answer many difficult questions around who is best equipped to respond to the diverse needs of our residents, and take a hard look at whether the investments being made in Black and Latino neighborhoods, in particular, are sufficient to meet those needs. If we do not ensure thoughtful allocation of funding and adequate investment, we will never solve these systemic problems.”
Launched earlier this month, The Working Group is focused on producing, advancing, and enacting meaningful reforms to address police violence and patterns of racial discrimination across the country. Composed of the mayors of Chicago, Tampa, and Cincinnati, and the police chiefs of Baltimore, Phoenix and Columbia (SC), The Working Group is also being advised by other experts in the field with the goal of releasing actionable recommendations that restore trust and accountability between communities and police.
“While there isn’t a one-size-fits-all rubric for the kind of police reform that is needed in this country, meaningful, commonsense police reform is urgently being addressed by this Working Group and their work is truly being rooted in the goal of ensuring safety for all,” said Bryan K. Barnett, USCM President and Mayor of Rochester Hills, MI. “I commend the swift, yet transparent steps being taken to address police violence nationwide by mayors and if we are truly going to reimagine public safety in America, we must restore trust between people and police. These principles lay the foundation for how we can get there.”
“This is a historic opportunity to make a difference, build trust, and create legitimate police reforms. We have been working on this in Cincinnati for 20 years and we know that we, and the rest of the country, have a lot more progress to make,” said John Cranley, Mayor of Cincinnati, OH and Chair of USCM’s Mayors and Police Chiefs Task Force.
“As city leaders, we want to create positive, meaningful, and historic change, which is why we started by defining our principles. These principles will guide us forward as we develop a strong framework for reform that reimagines public safety, underscores the importance of accountability, honors the sanctity of human life, and strengthens the bond of trust between officers and the communities they serve,” said Jane Castor, Mayor of Tampa, FL.
“We know that maintaining the status quo is not an option. Mayors and police leaders must meet this urgent moment and institute meaningful reforms. Through these principles, we will not only identify key reform measures, but we will focus on implementing them so that we can ensure true and lasting change,” said Charles Ramsey, Advisor to the U.S. Conference of Mayors, former police chief in Philadelphia and Washington, DC and Co-chair of President Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing.
Over the coming weeks, The Working Group will announce a full set of recommendations and proposals based on the statement of principles that can be implemented in cities nationwide.
Additional information about the USCM Working Group on Police Reform and Racial Justice can be found here.