Recommendations Answer the Call from Nationwide Movement for Racial Justice

Washington, DC – Today the United States Conference of Mayors (USCM) released a detailed blueprint for improving policing and promoting equal justice in America’s cities. Following the death of George Floyd, a USCM Working Group on Police Reform and Racial Justice was assembled and tasked with developing real, workable, sustainable recommendations to reform policing that will restore trust between officers and those they serve. In June, the Working Group, led by Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, released its principles for reform. The plan made public today goes further to discuss in detail the many dimensions of this challenge and provides a roadmap for cities to improve policing and address structural racism that has plagued the nation.

Along with Mayor Lightfoot, the Working Group included Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley, Chair of the USCM Mayors and Police Chiefs Task Force, Tampa Mayor Jane Castor, Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael Harrison, Phoenix Police Chief Jeri L. Williams and Columbia (SC) Chief of Police W.H. “Skip” Holbrook. The mayors and Police Chiefs worked with reform experts including Charles Ramsey, former police chief in Philadelphia and Washington, DC, Co-chair of President Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing and Advisor to the U.S. Conference of Mayors; Ron Davis, Executive Director, President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing and Director, COPS Office; and Tom Cochran, CEO and Executive Director, U.S. Conference of Mayors.

Upon release of the report, Working Group members and USCM’s President offered the following comments:

“As we hear the cries for racial justice across the country, we must address the critical need to reimagine public safety. We assembled this group to develop a serious plan for police reform that can be implemented in cities across America and today, we are releasing their recommendations, which were adopted by the bipartisan Conference of Mayors as official policy on Tuesday. We believe these recommendations can fundamentally change policing and restore trust between officers and those they serve. It is a thoughtful, detailed, transformational product, and I want to thank the Working Group, led by Mayor Lightfoot, for their work,” said Louisville Mayor and USCM President Greg Fischer.

“While our nation takes a comprehensive and honest assessment of policing and racial justice in this country, it’s our mayors and local police chiefs working in our communities who will be leading this effort through the implementation of real and enforceable reforms needed to build more transparent and accountable departments, and safer and stronger cities. This comprehensive, bipartisan report, which has been adopted by the full U.S. Conference of Mayors, provides cities and police departments with strong, actionable steps to build trust and legitimacy between officers and the communities they serve over the coming years. The principles and recommendations in this report are not a simple one-size-fits-all approach but instead represent a roadmap to guide everything we as mayors do going forward on the road to reform. I’m honored to have worked with my fellow mayors and public safety leaders to create this report, drawing on our combined decades of experience implementing reform, and I look forward to working with more cities as we build on these transformative efforts,” said Chicago Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot.

“We need more and better policing now more than ever. As gun violence spikes, we need more police to combat this epidemic and we need community-oriented policing to get the cooperation necessary to prevent crime and arrest shooters.  Police reform is necessary to achieve community trust, which is a prerequisite to reduce crime.  This report makes a number of specific calls for reforms to increase transparency and improve bias free policing and community policing to help Mayors and police chiefs make urgent and lasting changes. I am proud to share what we learned in Cincinnati to advance police reform nationwide,” said Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley.

“Having served my community for over three decades as a police officer, chief and now mayor I understand that in order to be successful, a city must be viewed as safe and just for all. The report that the US Conference of Mayors has completed on Police Reform and Social Justice provides valuable principles and recommendations that leaders throughout the country can use to advance their community in these critical areas. The time for change is now. It will not be easy, and it will take everyone – residents, police officers, service providers, educators, organizations public and private – to work towards a just and equitable society. I am proud to have been a part of crafting this report and hope that it is used as a guide to move our nation forward,” said Tampa Mayor Jane Castor.

“We know that maintaining the status quo is not an option.  Mayors and police chiefs must meet this urgent moment and institute meaningful reforms.  This report from the U.S. Conference of Mayors is an important step forward.  The report collects some of the best thinking on the proper role of the police and the appropriate relationship between police and the communities they serve.  It also brings new ideas to the table by focusing on the responsibility mayors and chiefs have to negotiate with police unions to address current limits on investigations and reliance on arbitration in holding officers accountable,” 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.

The Working Group’s recommendations tackle issues listed below, and the full report can be found here.

  • Trust and Legitimacy
  • Redefining the Role of Local Police and Public Safety, including the need to fund social services
  • Equality and Due Process, including stops, searches, arrests, and police complaints
  • Sanctity of Life, which includes the use of force and de-escalation
  • Community
  • Transparency and Accountability, which covers department policies, collective bargaining agreements, and officer certifications and decertification

Mayors are committed to implementing these reforms.  Moving forward the USCM will be convening meetings, maintaining a database of policies and best practices, and offering counsel to mayors as they work to make the solutions reality in their cities.