The President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing
Five Ways Stakeholder Groups Can Implement the Task Force’s Recommendations
- Create listening opportunities with the community.
- Allocate government resources to implementation.
- Conduct community surveys on attitudes toward policing, and publish the results.
- Define the terms of civilian oversight to meet the community’s needs.
- Recognize and address holistically the root causes of crime.
- Review and update policies, training, and data collection on use of force, and engage community members and police labor unions in the process.
- Increase transparency of data, policies, and procedures.
- Call on the POST Commission to implement all levels of training.
- Examine hiring practices and ways to involve the community in recruiting.
- Ensure officers have access to the tools they need to keep them safe.
- Engage with local law enforcement; participate in meetings, surveys, and other activities.
- Participate in problem-solving efforts to reduce crime and improve quality of life.
- Work with local law enforcement to ensure crime-reducing resources and tactics are being deployed that mitigate unintended consequences.
- Call on state legislators to ensure that the legal framework does not impede accountability for law enforcement.
- Review school policies and practices, and advocate for early intervention strategies that minimize involvement of youth in the criminal justice system.
Introduction: President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing
On December 18, 2014, President Barack Obama issued an Executive Order appointing an 11- member task force on 21st century policing to respond to a number of serious incidents between law enforcement and the communities they serve and protect. The President wanted a quick but thorough response that would begin the process of healing and restore community trust.
The mission of the Executive Order was clear: The Task Force shall, consistent with applicable law, identify best practices and otherwise make recommendations to the President on how policing practices can promote effective crime reduction while building public trust.
In 90 days, the task force facilitated seven hearings with 140 witnesses and reviewed volumes of written testimony submitted online by additional witnesses and the general public. The testimony and hearings were organized around the following six pillars:
- Building Trust and Legitimacy
- Policy and Oversight
- Technology and Social Media
- Community Policing and Crime Reduction
- Training and Education
- Officer Wellness and Safety
The task force generated 59 recommendations with 92 action items. Each recommendation was developed, vetted, and approved by the task force by consensus. The task force comprised leaders from law enforcement, police unions, academia, and civil rights organizations as well as community members.
The task force insisted that the recommendations be anchored in measurable and behavioral change and not in abstract theory around policing. The report that was submitted to the President in May of 2015 — Final Report of the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing(1) — created a road map for the future of policing and provides clear direction on how to build trust with the public.
President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing
Charles H. Ramsey, co-chair
Commissioner, Philadelphia Police Department
Laurie Robinson, co-chair
Professor, George Mason University
Cedric L. Alexander, Deputy Chief Operating Officer for Public Safety, DeKalb County, Georgia
Jose Lopez, Lead Organizer, Make the Road New York
Tracey L. Meares, Walton Hale Hamilton Professor of Law, Yale Law School
Brittany N. Packnett, Executive Director, Teach for America, St. Louis, Missouri
Susan Lee Rahr, Executive Director, Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission
Constance Rice, Co-Director, Advancement Project
Sean Michael Smoot, Director and Chief Counsel, Police Benevolent & Protective Association of Illinois
Bryan Stevenson, Founder and Executive Director, Equal Justice Initiative
Roberto Villaseñor, Chief of Police, Tucson (Arizona) Police Department
Ronald L. Davis, executive director
Director, Office of Community Oriented Policing Services
On July 23, 2015, the White House and the U.S. Department of Justice convened a Forum on Community Policing. The forum hosted representatives from 36 separate jurisdictions to review actions and plans for implementation of the task force recommendations. In two months, communities had made significant progress to implement the recommendations. Mayors and law enforcement leaders were organizing their own task forces, communities were participating in establishing procedures for civilian oversight, body-worn cameras were being purchased, and a wide range of activities around the six pillars were emerging.
Participants in the forum asked for a guidebook for the task force recommendations. They wanted a tool that would provide specific guidance on implementing the recommendations and creating change in policing and community engagement. They expressed a desire to have a resource that would give them ideas for immediate action. They asked for simple, concrete actions that would take them to the next level of mobilization to restore trust between the community and the police.
This document is that guidebook. It is a tool that will serve as a catalyst for change and give specific guidance on how to reduce crime while building community trust.
The final report contains a number of underlying themes on which specific recommendations are based.
1. Change the culture of policing
In a republic that honors the core of democracy — the greatest amount of power is given to those called Guardians. Only those with the most impeccable character are chosen to bear the responsibility of protecting the democracy.
Guardians versus warriors: The final report calls for law enforcement to protect the dignity and human rights of all, to be the protectors and champions of the constitution. This rethinking of the role of police in a democracy requires leadership and commitment across law enforcement organizations to ensure internal and external policies, practices, and procedures that guide individual officers and make organizations more accountable to the communities they serve.
2. Embrace community policing
Community policing is a philosophy as well as a way of doing business. The commitment to work with communities to tackle the immediate and longer-term causes of crime through joint problem solving reduces crime and improves quality of life. It also makes officers safer and increases the likelihood of individuals to abide by the law.2
3. Ensure fair and impartial policing
Procedural justice is based on four principles: (1) treating people with dignity and respect, (2) giving individuals “voice” during encounters, (3) being neutral and transparent in decision making, and (4) conveying trustworthy motives. In addition to practicing procedural justice, understanding the negative impact of explicit and implicit bias on police-community relations and then taking constructive actions to train officers and the community on how to recognize and mitigate are key factors.
4. Build community capital
Trust and legitimacy grow from positive interactions based on more than just enforcement interactions. Law enforcement agencies can achieve trust and legitimacy by establishing a positive presence at community activities and events, participating in proactive problem solving, and ensuring that communities have a voice and seat at the table working with officers.
5. Pay attention to officer wellness and safety
Law enforcement officers face all kinds of threats and stresses that have a direct impact on their safety and well-being. Ensure that officers have access to the tools that will keep them safe, such as bulletproof vests and tactical first aid kits and training. Promote officer wellness through physical, social and mental health support.
New and emerging technology is changing the way we police. It improves efficiency and transparency but also raises privacy concerns and has a significant price tag. Body-worn cameras, less than lethal use of force technologies, communication, and social media all require a legal and pragmatic review of policies, practices, and procedures. These policies, practices, and procedures should be developed with input from the community and constitutional scholars.
Moving from Recommendations to Action
Local elected and appointed government officials, law enforcement agencies, and the communities they serve are a three-legged stool in the effort to implement the task force recommendations from the final report. Each leg must be in place to support a comprehensive approach to reduce crime and build trust and legitimacy. Success in a community will require collaboration and partnerships among these three groups.
Change begins with listening. Law enforcement, mayors, city managers, and other government officials must be intentional about setting up listening posts. Use community meetings, church gatherings, and other venues to create an environment where the community knows leadership will listen. Listen to officers too. You can use formal and informal mechanisms such as surveys, focus groups, social media, and interviewing citizens to gain insight on community concerns or ideas. This cannot be a one-dimensional conversation — it must be a true dialogue externally with the community and internally within law enforcement agencies. It will require moving beyond offices, squad cars, and boundaries to engage in conversations. Leadership must engage in active listening so citizens and officers know there is concern and understanding in order to move forward.
Each pillar and recommendation will require planning. If trust and legitimacy are a primary concern, leaders will need to convene a planning group with representation from each of the three legs of the stool. After reviewing and assessing the task force recommendations, leadership will discover there will be recommendations that are more relevant than others to a particular community’s context.
Recommendation 1.2 Law enforcement agencies should acknowledge the role of policing in past and present injustice and discrimination and how it is a hurdle to the promotion of community trust.
- A number of law enforcement agencies have taken the step of acknowledging past law enforcement involvement in discrimination and injustice.
- Other departments have developed policies to become more transparent and immediately responsive to the public around critical incidents, including the proactive release of data on police-citizen interactions.
- One community established a professional standards and accountability board (PSAB) tasked with rooting out corruption, holding officers accountable, and implementing national best practices for policies and training.
Leaders will have to assess whether or not each intervention is appropriate to their agency and community. Does the community need a PSAB? Is there another way to achieve the same outcome and still secure the community’s trust? The guidebook encourages you to contextualize your interventions or strategies.
Pay attention to the process of planning, and engage all relevant constituent groups — from labor unions and student groups to faith leaders and neighborhood associations — in the process of planning design. Leadership can circumvent a number of problems or challenges by being transparent and inclusive of stakeholders in all phases of the planning process.
All planning events around task force recommendations should include community and labor union representation. Any policy or program recommendation should be built on a consensus model. Decision making through consensus requires conversation and open and transparent dialogue, and finally, consensus building builds a culture of trust.
The plan will also require attention to resource allocation. What will it cost to implement a specific recommendation?
Recommendation 4.4 Communities should support a culture and practice of policing that reflects the values of protection and promotion of the dignity of all, especially the most vulnerable.
Action Item 4.4.2 Law enforcement agencies should develop programs that create opportunities for patrol officers to regularly interact with neighborhood residents, faith leaders, and business leaders.
This recommendation and its action item may seem like a low cost/high impact proposition; however, it requires the allocation of officer time and the development of specific strategies. Recognize that good community policing should reduce calls for service and increase public safety and public satisfaction.
Moving from planning to action will require a mechanism for implementation. This can be a short-term working group or a longer-term, more formal body with a charge from either local government or law enforcement to manage the follow up activities.
Be sure that the implementation mechanism adequately represents groups most affected by law enforcement and those who have the capacity, authority, and resources to make the changes proposed happen. Err on the side of inclusion when designing implementation strategies. Local officials and law enforcement leadership must ask who makes lasting change in the areas being addressed. Failure to include the right participants can sabotage your plan.
Set up a method to measure and monitor what is taking place. Be sure to include a feedback loop that can identify unintended consequences in order to be responsive to community concerns. Transparency and regular communication are essential to this process. Keeping the community and all key stakeholders informed about progress and key learnings can build trust and increase collaboration.
Five Things Local Government Can Do
Local governments (municipalities and counties) are essential to the implementation of the task force recommendations. Local government officials (elected and appointed government leaders) bring their relationship with the community to the process. People who have been elected and have earned the trust of citizens in that process represent their communities. Local government officials should honor their commitment to safety and security for their constituents by being involved in every phase of design and implementation of the task force recommendations.
Specific action steps
1.Create listening opportunities with various areas and groups in the community. Listen and engage in a dialogue regarding concerns or issues related to trust.
2. Specifically allocate local government infrastructure and IT staff expertise to support law enforcement reporting on activities related to implementation of the task force recommendations. These should include making public all relevant policies and procedures, records, and open data sets. Let the community know what you have done and will be doing.
3. Conduct community surveys on community attitudes toward policing, and publish the results along with associated data. Establish baselines and metrics to measure progress, and use the results as a means to engage the community in dialogue.
The Fresno (California) Police Department developed a community survey to measure community attitudes about local law enforcement and established a baseline and plan to administer the survey on an annual basis to monitor improvements or changes in perceptions.
4. Define the appropriate form and structure of civilian oversight to meet the needs of the community.
Many cities have established an independent citizen oversight board to review complaints of police misconduct. The National Association for Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement (NACOLE) brings together individuals and agencies working to establish or improve the oversight of law enforcement officers in the United States. The continuum for civilian oversight ranges from limited authority to reviewing and making recommendations to boards that have investigative and subpoena powers. Each community establishes its own local parameters for independent citizen review.
5. Recognize the correlation between poverty, urban decay, and unemployment to quality of life, the breakdown of community cohesion, and the increase of crime. Link economic development and poverty reduction to longer-term problem-solving strategies for addressing crime.
Five Things Law Enforcement Can Do
Building trust and legitimacy on both sides of the police-citizen divide is not only the first pillar of this task force’s report but also the foundational principle underlying this inquiry into the nature of the relations between law enforcement and the communities they serve.
– President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing
Law enforcement organizations have the opportunity to provide leadership, establish a climate of openness, and demonstrate a willingness to implement the task force recommendations. Law enforcement organizations should ensure, as they implement the recommendations and develop new strategies, that they engage community members and police labor unions in the process.
Specific action steps
1.Review and update policies, training, and data collection on use of force. Emphasize de- escalation and alternatives to arrest or summons in situations where appropriate. Policies and training should include shoot/don’t shoot scenarios and the use of less than lethal technologies.
2.Increase transparency by collecting and making data, policies, and procedures publicly available in multiple languages relevant to the local community through official website(s) and municipal open data portals. To accelerate this work, join the growing community of agencies participating in the Police Data Initiative to learn best practices around open data on policing, and to share challenges and successes along the way.
3.Call on the state Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) Commission to implement training at all levels to ensure fair and impartial policing.
The Washington State POST Academy is leading the way in changing law enforcement training from a warrior to a guardian mentality. Together with Blue Courage, the Police Foundation, and other innovators, they are developing a national blueprint and toolkit training model funded with a planning grant from the MacArthur Foundation.
4. Examine hiring practices to better involve the community in recruiting and screening of recruits.
The Sarasota (Florida) Police Department involves the community in recruiting, selecting, and hiring officers as a way to encourage a more diverse workforce. The city works with residents to identify culturally responsive and qualified multilingual candidates for consideration. The community gives input into the hiring priorities considered in selection.
5. Ensure that officers have access to the tools that will keep them safe, such as bulletproof vests and tactical first aid kits and training. Policies should reinforce the use of seat belts and other protective practices.
The Dallas (Texas) Police Department has tested the use of providing tactical first aid kits similar to what the military uses in the field and training every officer with the skills to properly use them. The result is that officers are saving lives in critical, life-threatening situations, especially those involving gunshot wounds. This can be beneficial in saving the lives of officers, victims, and even suspects.
Five Things Communities Can Do
Communities are diverse and include faith-based and community organizations, youth, employers, business and technology partners, foundations, civil society and advocacy groups, and others.
“Neighborhood policing provides an opportunity for police departments to do things with residents in the co-production of public safety rather than doing things to or for them,” said one individual at a task force listening session. Community policing is not just about the behavior and tactics of police; it is also about the civic engagement and capacity of communities to improve their own neighborhoods, their quality of life, and their sense of safety and well-being.
Specific action steps
1.Actively engage with local law enforcement by participating in community meetings, surveys, listening posts, civilian oversight boards, citizen academies, chaplain programs, and innovative activities related to technology.
2. Participate with officers in problem-solving efforts to reduce crime and improve quality of life in neighborhoods.
In Fort Wayne, Indiana, faith-based groups are working actively with law enforcement and the city to provide volunteers and raise funds to improve low-income properties and address urban decay in high crime neighborhoods as a way to build a new climate of hope and momentum. Crime is down and relationships with law enforcement are improving.
3. Work with local law enforcement to ensure that they are deploying resources and tactics that reduce crime, improve relationships with the community and mitigate unintended consequences.
Communities United for Police Reform (CPR) is a citizen’s movement in New York City seeking to change stop-and-frisk. CPR is calling for a range of reforms that address collecting data on all types of police stops and use of force, educating people about their rights, monitoring and documenting police behavior, and calling for policing tactics that increase community trust.
4. Call on state legislators to ensure that the legal framework does not impede the ability of the community to hold local agencies accountable for their policies and practices.
5. Review school policies and practices that may have an unintended consequence of pushing children and young people into the criminal justice system and advocate for strategies that are more effective at prevention and early intervention.
Practical Next Steps to Get Started
So how do we get started? The following suggestions focus on practical things that law enforcement organizations, communities, and jurisdictions can jointly undertake immediately to begin addressing the final report itself and the specific recommendations in each of the six pillars.
Establish a mechanism to address the final report and its recommendations
Each community should use the final report as a tool to review the current status of their own law enforcement organization and to identify ways to strengthen police-community dialogue and collaboration.
- Formally appoint a new or existing task force or working group including law enforcement unions and community representatives to review and address the recommendations contained in the report.
- External approach: Appointed by local government to include law enforcement and community representatives
- Internal approach: Appointed by the law enforcement organization to review the report and recommendations
- Review the report and assess current status, identify gaps or areas for improvement, identify budget implications, and recommend priorities for next steps.
- Provide the findings to the community, local government, and law enforcement organization for discussion and action.
In New Orleans, Louisiana, the mayor’s office, superintendent’s office, Police and Justice Foundation, and faith leaders meet monthly to discuss further implementation of report recommendations.
The Spokane (Washington) Police Department set up an internal process to review the task force recommendations and to identify areas for improvement.
Communities can use the task force recommendations as a guide for discussions with local government and local law enforcement agencies about the status of police-community relations and areas for dialogue.
Monitor status and progress against the final report recommendations
The final report and its recommendations can be an effective template for law enforcement organizations and communities to measure progress against a national, objective set of recommendations.
- Create a checklist using the recommendations, including who is responsible for each recommendation (not all are law enforcement-specific).
- Develop an implementation plan with specific action items for each recommendation that needs to be addressed; additional analysis can include resources needed, timelines, and regular status updates.
- Use the checklist in local government, law enforcement, and community meetings as a management tool to drive implementation.
- Provide regular updates to the community and local government on progress being made on implementing specific recommendations.
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, mayor Michael Nutter signed an executive order supporting the efforts of the police department to review the task force report and establish a baseline of current status, recommendations for next steps, and projected costs for implementation.
The Philadelphia Police Department appointed a captain to be responsible for monitoring department progress on all recommendations and preparing regular reports as part of staff meetings and reports to the City Council.
Community advocacy groups can also monitor implementation of the recommendations as a source of dialogue with law enforcement.
Build relationships through nonenforcement interactions between officers, youth, and other community members
These activities create opportunities for officers and law enforcement agencies to be co- contributors to the broader community quality of life.
- Increase opportunities for officers to interact with the community by assigning officers to specific geographic areas for longer periods of time and adjusting shift patterns to accommodate problem-solving activities with community members.
- Encourage opportunities for officers, youth, and other community members to interact in more open and constructive dialogue through nonenforcement activities such as the following:
- Encouraging participation in community events
- Offering officers opportunities to mentor youth
- Officers serving as community coaches for youth sports
- Reading and providing books to inner city schools
Resident Officer Programs initiated through city housing agencies in communities such as Oakland, California, and Sanford, Florida, provide incentives for officers to live in higher risk neighborhoods where their presence can reduce crime.
Boston Police Commissioner William Evans says, “I think we’re the only police department in the country with an ice cream truck and I can’t say enough good things about it. When the truck shows up, the kids love it and our officers love it too because it gives them a platform and an opportunity to engage and interact with our city’s young people in a positive, friendly, productive way.”
The Bronx Women’s Ministerial Association leaders honored 48 women officers serving in the 18 precincts in the Bronx who are also mothers with an appreciation award, the Women on the Frontline Award, as a way to build solidarity and trust with local officers.
Listen to the community
Community policing places a high value on community engagement, interaction, and dialogue. Law enforcement organizations and communities should be intentional about the level of nonenforcement interaction between officers and the neighborhoods they serve.
- Conduct community surveys, forums, and town hall meetings on a regular basis, not just in a crisis.
- Encourage regular officer participation in neighborhood or school meetings.
- Form community advisory groups (general or population specific).
- Participate in positive interactions with the community that do not involve an enforcement action or investigation.
- Involve community members in discussing policing tactics and designing problem-solving strategies.
- Adjust patrol schedules to allow time for interactions with the community.
- Measure and reward nonenforcement community contacts.
Local governments can hold public hearings or open forums or set up systematic ways for citizens to provide feedback on how they are experiencing policing.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office established precinct community advisory committees to facilitate systematic community input and feedback on policing practices.
Communities can initiate town hall meetings, form advisory groups, or strengthen the level of community participation in community policing activities.
What do we know? What do the data say?
Lack of relevant data impacts the ability of communities and law enforcement agencies to make informed policy and practice adjustments based on good information. A number of the task force recommendations address the need to collect additional data to improve the level of trust, transparency, and accountability between communities and law enforcement agencies.
- Collect data regularly on community attitudes and perceptions about local law enforcement.
- Collect and analyze demographic data on all stops, searches, and seizures.
- Collect and analyze data on all uses of force, officer-involved shootings, and in-custody deaths.
- Collect and analyze data on law enforcement treatment of vulnerable populations (in particular such as immigrant, LGBT, and gender nonconforming populations) through surveys, focus groups, advisory groups, and complaints.
Mandate the collection and sharing of data that documents more information about all law enforcement stops, officer involved use of force, or in-custody incidents.
The Spokane (Washington) Police Department is partnering with Washington State University and Eastern Washington University for data analysis.
Residents are able to submit an online survey providing feedback on their most recent contact with the Sanford (Florida) Police Department. Their website says it all: “The success of the Sanford Police Department’s mission depends on the partnerships developed during contact with the public. Please take a few moments to complete the following survey. The survey will help us evaluate our service to the community and identify ways in which we can improve.”
Training as a tool to drive change
Many of the recommendations addressed the importance of training for basic recruits and in- service training in a number of key areas.
- Changing the culture of policing requires an emphasis on policing in a democratic society, training officers about how to protect human rights, dignity, and public safety for all.
- Undertake trainings and organizational change that address procedural justice, implicit bias, and de-escalation/use of force.
- Revisit field training officer processes to ensure they match up with the guardian culture of policing.
- Engage the community in trainings.
- Open trainings to the public and allow observers.
- Include community members as trainers — for example, in sessions on community perceptions about enforcement tactics, levels of trust, and areas for dialogue.
Local governments can mandate agency priorities and operating principles and allocate funding necessary to change the culture of policing
Law enforcement agencies are undertaking significant training regimens that focus on de- escalation to reduce use of force incidents and on implicit bias, procedural justice, and the use of technology such as body-worn cameras to improve outcomes and community trust.
Community members are being given the opportunity to participate in training designed for citizens such as citizen academies, observe department in-service trainings, and actually help to provide training for departments, especially on the community perspective around how different policing tactics are perceived by the community.
Value and respect diversity in the community and on the force
We are becoming a nation of diversity, from racial and ethnic diversity to diversity in religion, culture, language, gender, sexual orientation, housing status, income, disabilities, and more.
- Ensure that officers have the knowledge and skills to be culturally responsive and to treat each person with dignity and respect.
- Train officers to recognize factors that may affect how best to treat a community member or suspect while protecting officer and community safety.
- Involve the community in the recruitment, selection, and hiring of officers and incentivize multilingual officers through changes in pay, hours, or other means.
- Recognize and seek to better understand people with mental and physical disabilities.
- Recognize that LGBT and gender nonconforming populations often experience extreme discrimination, sexual harassment, and assault. Adopt policies and practices that encourage true dialogue, dignity, respect, and an understanding of the factors that affect these populations when they are involved in the criminal justice system.
Local government bodies can set policies that promote fair and just policing practices that protect and monitor the rights and treatment of all residents.
The Palos Park (Illinois) Police Department reviewed all the task force recommendations and made a number of commitments including adopting policies recommended to improve the fair and just treatment of LGBT populations.
LGBT and community advocacy groups can seek a constructive dialogue with law enforcement to build an understanding of the unique needs of this population by forming an advisory group to meet with law enforcement regularly as now exists in Baltimore, Maryland.
Other Key Stakeholders and What They Can Do
- Review and mandate requirements for police state training academies for basic recruit and in-service hours and content in light of the task force recommendations.
- Update public records laws to take into account the impact of new and emerging technologies such as body worn cameras and other mediums for collecting personal information during law enforcement investigations or actions.
- Address the independent investigation and prosecution of use of force, officer-involved shootings, and in-custody deaths with the goal to increase officer and public confidence in fair and impartial treatment.
- Consider legislation requiring law enforcement agencies to collect data on stops, frisks, searches, summons, and arrests as found in task force recommendation 2.6.
Education stakeholders (all levels)
- Review the use of school resource officers (SRO) and examine policies to ensure that the use of SROs is not increasing the school-to-prison pipeline but providing effective alternatives to incarceration through constructive interventions.
- Collect data to monitor the use of school disciplinary practices (detentions and expulsions), including demographic data on students and the nature of the offenses to develop more youth development appropriate strategies.
National law enforcement professional associations
- Disseminate the final report to members.
- Promote dialogue on the recommendations through conferences, webinars, and publications.
- Identify specific areas of the report where the national organization can add value to its members and to the broader law enforcement community.
- Develop capacity within law enforcement organizations to foster the next generation of leaders at all levels of the organization.
Law enforcement labor organizations
- Embrace and assist in the formation of officer training on use of force, cultural responsiveness, and implicit bias.
- Develop trainings that police unions or associations can use with faith-based and other community groups to teach community members about what to do if they are pulled over or have an encounter with a police officer.
- Promote procedural justice, both internal, on behalf of officers, and external, in terms of how members perform their duties in the community.
State POSTs and law enforcement training academies
- Recognize the leadership role they play in the culture of policing through basic recruit, field training officer, and in-service training.
- Review the final report for training implications and seek ways to strengthen the training of new and current officers to ensure officers have the skills required for fair and just policing.
- Develop research and innovation around training and improved accessibility for small and rural agencies.
National professional organizations for local governments
- Review the final report to identify specific roles and responsibilities for local elected and appointed officials in the recommendations.
- Disseminate the final report to members.
- Include workshops or sessions on the final report in state and national meetings or conferences.
Foundations (local, regional, national)
- Work with local communities and law enforcement organizations to identify specific ways that foundations can support implementation of the recommendations.
- Fund pilot projects to identify and promote best practices across all six pillars.
- Incentivize law enforcement agencies to shift from a warrior to a guardian culture of policing.
- Support new data collection and research efforts to improve accountability and transparency.
Resources to assist communities, local governments and law enforcement agencies with implementing the final report recommendations can be found at http://cops.usdoj.gov/policingtaskforce.
When any part of the American family does not feel like it is being treated fairly, that’s a problem for all of us. It means that we are not as strong as a country as we can be. And when applied to the criminal justice system, it means we’re not as effective in fighting crime as we could be.
–President Barack Obama
We are at a crossroads regarding policing in the United States. This is a moment in history when the country is focused on the challenges facing us and it is incumbent upon us to act.
We all own the future of policing in the 21st century. Leadership needs to come from all three sectors in every jurisdiction — local government, law enforcement, and the community. That three-legged stool needs to be evenly balanced and the weight of creating healthy, vibrant, and safe communities equally shared.
The mission of the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing has now been handed to us: to build trust between citizens and their law enforcement officers so that all components of the community treat one another fairly and justly and are invested in maintaining public safety in an atmosphere of mutual respect.
Executive Summary of the Six Pillars by Topics
Pillar One: Building Trust & Legitimacy
- Changing the culture of policing — guardian versus warrior culture of policing
- Role of policing in past injustices
- Culture of transparency and accountability
- Procedural justice: internal legitimacy
- Positive non-enforcement activities
- Research crime-fighting strategies that undermine or build public trust
- Community surveys
- Workforce diversity
- Decouple federal immigration enforcement from local policing
Pillar Two: Policy & Oversight
- Community input and involvement
- Use of force
- Non-punitive peer review of critical incidents
- Scientifically supported identification procedures
- Demographic data on all detentions
- Mass demonstration policies
- Local civilian oversight
- No quotas for tickets for revenue
- Consent and informed search and seizure
- Officer identification and reason for stops
- Prohibit profiling and discrimination, in particular as it relates to LGBT and gender nonconforming populations
- Encourage shared services between jurisdictions
- National Register of Decertified Officers
Pillar Three: Technology & Social Media
- New technology standards for compatibility and interoperability
- Address human rights and privacy concerns
- Technology designed considering local needs and people with special needs
- Body-worn cameras and other emerging technologies
- Public records laws — update to keep up with emerging technologies
- Transparency and accessibility for the community through technology
- Develop new less than lethal technology
Pillar Four: Community Policing & Crime Reduction
- Community engagement in managing public safety
- Infuse community policing throughout law enforcement organizations
- Use multidisciplinary teams
- Protect the dignity of all
- Neighborhood problem solving
- Reduce aggressive law enforcement that stigmatizes youth
- Address the school-to-prison pipeline
- Youth engagement
Pillar Five: Training & Education
- High quality training and training innovation hubs
- Engage community members in trainings
- Leadership training for all officers
- National postgraduate program of policing for senior executives
- Incorporate the following in basic recruit and in-service trainings:
- Policing in a democratic society
- Implicit bias and cultural responsiveness
- Social interaction skills and tactical skills
- Disease of addiction
- Crisis intervention teams (mental health)
- Reinforce policies on sexual misconduct and sexual harassment
- How to work with LGBT and gender nonconforming populations
- Higher education for law enforcement officers
- Use of technology to improve access to and quality of training
- Improve field training officer programs
Pillar Six: Officer Wellness & Safety
- Multifaceted officer safety and wellness initiative
- Promote officer wellness and safety at every level
- Scientifically supported shift lengths
- Tactical first aid kit and training
- Anti-ballistic vests for every officer
- Collect information on injuries and near misses as well as officer deaths
- Require officers to wear seat belts and bulletproof vests
- Pass peer review error management legislation
- Smart car technology to reduce accidents
In December 2014, President Barack Obama appointed a task force on 21st century policing charged with identifying best practices and offering recommendations on how policing practices can promote effective crime reduction while building public trust. To inform its work, the task force facilitated seven listening sessions, hearing testimony from 140 witnesses and reviewing volumes of written testimony, and submitted its final report to the President in May 2015. This implementation guide is a companion to the task force report. It is a tool that provides guidance on implementing the task force’s 59 recommendations and 92 action items and serves as a resource for law enforcement, local government, community members, and other stakeholders interested in concrete examples of ways to turn the task force recommendations into action.
U.S. Department of Justice
Office of Community Oriented Policing Services 145 N Street NE
Washington, DC 20530
To obtain details about COPS Office programs, call the COPS Office Response Center at 800–421–6770.
Visit the COPS Office online at www.cops.usdoj.gov.
1 President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing, Final Report of the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing (Washington, DC: Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, 2015), http://www.cops.usdoj.gov/pdf/taskforce/TaskForce_FinalReport.pdf
2 Community Policing Defined (Washington, DC: Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, 2014), http://ric-zai-inc.com/Publications/cops-p157-pub.pdf