Washington DC: Today, Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck joined President Obama and Bill Keller, Editor-in-Chief of The Marshall Project, for a conversation on criminal justice reform with US Attorney John Walsh from Colorado. The focus of the discussion was how to make America's law enforcement and correctional practices more just and effective.
Said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, "There is an important and necessary national conversation happening right now about use-of-force and the role of police, especially in communities of color.
Though L.A. has a painful history and still experiences difficult moments today, we have taken extraordinary steps to break from the past - and our achievements and commitment to continuing progress have earned our city a place among America's leaders in 21st century policing and criminal justice reform. That is affirmed by Chief Beck's conversation with President Obama today at the White House, as they discuss ways that America's law enforcement and correctional practices can be made fairer and more effective.
Cities across the nation can find transformative lessons in L.A.'s story - as we deepen our police department's relationships with the communities they serve, emphasize de-escalation tactics and transparency through what will be the nation's largest body-camera program, and provide pathways to second chances for nonviolent offenders instead of pipelines to prison."
Said LAPD Chief Charlie Beck, "We have to recognize that all crimes do not carry the same weight and some crimes involve addiction and mental illness and have other pathways that can be more effective than incarceration. We are a reflection of a much larger issue in America. There is racial disparity in housing, in employment, in the entire economic system… We have to look at these things in totality and address them as a nation."
The Los Angeles Police Department has embraced the recommendations from the President's Task Force on 21st Century Policing Interim Report released earlier this year. A key pillar of the Interim Report pertains to developing policy and oversight with regard to Police Training and Education. This summer, Chief Beck unveiled a five-hour block of training to every field officer in the LAPD on the topic of reverence for life. The training utilized historical reference points including the 1992 Riots and the Rampart Corruption Scandal, as well as national use of force incidents to highlight key transformational moments in the department's history. The course included a block on building our capacity to engage the mentally ill. Officers took away the reminder that reverence for all life is the cornerstone to constitutional policing.
Chief Beck addressed a second pillar of the report - Community Policing and Crime Reduction - through continued growth of the Cadet program, establishing an LAPD Headquarters Cadet Post in order to recognize the voice of youth in community decision-making. The Department is also spearheading a Juvenile Arrest Diversion Program in Operations-South Bureau designed to keep first time offenders from jail time through social engagement, education, and job training.
The panel discussion at the White House was live-streamed at 2:00 PM Eastern Time Thursday. It can be viewed at The Marshall Project and Yahoo.