WH Task Force to Review Grand Juries’ Handling of Police Killings

Justin Sink, The Hill, December 16, 2014

A White House panel is examining whether grand juries are the best way to review the use of deadly force by law enforcement in the aftermath of controversial decisions not to indict police officers who killed unarmed black men.

“One of the things that we will be looking at as a task force is independent review of these kinds of cases and how should that take place,” Philadelphia police chief Charles Ramsey, who is co-chairing the panel, told NPR’s “Morning Edition” on Tuesday.

“But, we also want to make sure that everything we do protects everyone’s rights and that includes the rights of the police officer, as well.”

Ramsey said that what “people are concerned about is how these cases are reviewed.”

“Is a grand jury, for an example, the proper way of doing it, with the district attorney’s involvement and so forth?” he asked.

President Obama created the panel late last month, after a grand jury decided not to indict Darren Wilson, a white police officer who shot and killed Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager in Ferguson, Mo.

That decision sparked protests across the country, with demonstrators saying the case highlighted systematic racial issues in the criminal justice system. Pressure has intensified following the case of Eric Garner, a black man killed when a white police officer placed him in a chokehold in Staten Island.


In addition to reviewing the grand jury process, the panel is looking at ways it could change the handling of federal grants to compel police departments to adopt new training procedures.

“There are 18,000 state and local law enforcement agencies in this country, and the federal government can’t order any of them to do specific things,” said Laurie Robinson, a former assistant attorney general who is co-chairing the panel with Ramsey.

“But, there are levers that can be pulled,” Robinson continued. “For example, tying change to federal grants–like specific changes that the way training is done as a requirement for receiving federal grants in the area of criminal justice.”

Ramsey said he was concerned police training did not spend “enough time on the educational component–having officers understand the role of police in a democratic society” and how to establish trust with their communities.



Share This

We welcome comments that add information or perspective, and we encourage polite debate. If you log in with a social media account, your comment should appear immediately. If you prefer to remain anonymous, you may comment as a guest, using a name and an e-mail address of convenience. Your comment will be moderated.
  • Dave4088

    Once again this nation must twist itself into knots because afro-mericans are unable to act civilized and meet first world behavioral norms. . This training will probably lead to an increase in crime and dead or injured, mostly white, police officers.

    • Da Troof

      Well said.

  • My sense of the matter is that this GJ issue here is all bluster. I don’t think there’s a Federal judge around who wouldn’t find the blanket removal of GJ protection for cops to be constitutional. It’s just that Obama and Co. have to keep on yammering that they’re really going to do something to placate and foment the mobs (remember, Obama was once a mob agitator community organizer), fully realizing all the while that they can do nothing.

  • Georgia Boy

    >>“But, there are levers that can be pulled,” Robinson continued. “For example, tying change to federal grants–like specific changes that the way training is done as a requirement for receiving federal grants in the area of criminal justice.”

    Called it.

  • 48224

    All that BHO and Mr. Holder need to do is REQUIRE by law that whenever a white cop is on trial for killing a black person…..the jury MUST be all black so that they will get the verdict they want. They can call in the OJ Simpson law.

    • John R

      Don’t think they wouldn’t do that if only they could.

  • dd121

    There’s no defect in the grand jury system. The defect is in the makeup of blacks.

    • See The Future

      The defect is in the white house

  • TomIron361

    Feds may force police departments to adopt new training.
    There is a way to stop federal orders. Stop taking fedgov money of any sort. You stop taking the money, you can stop taking the orders – Simple – not easy, but simple.

    • IstvanIN

      That would be great if a state would stop taking federal money for programs like TANF and Medicaid and SNAP, it would force all the dark ones out and the reduction in state expenditures would be terrific.

  • Albert

    Coming up: Grand Jury is seen as unfit to handle such matters, and so an Obama Inquisition will be created to Judge all white cops that kill black suspects in the future. Also, all white cops are now considered to be on probation with everything they say or do under scrutiny. Under this administration, the police are viewed as the real criminals.

  • IstvanIN

    Equal protection for Whites has been eliminated so why not a jury by our peers?

  • Paleoconn

    Science fiction headline of the day: White House Task Force To Look Into Rampant Black-on-Black Homicides’

  • John Smith

    I thought the judicial system was supposed to be independent from outside interference? Since each state has its own laws, each case should be reviewed under the structures set forth in those laws. The grand jury system seems like the most fair way to decide whether or not to bring charges and the least susceptible to outside, politically motivated pressure.

  • Brian V. Sitterley

    Drives Obama and Holder nuts that both grand and petit jurors -ordinary American citizens- have more authority than they do. That also drives judges and prosecutors to drink.

  • Spikeygrrl

    Bollocks, there went the neighborhood.

    We don’t want or need any more Gestapo in therapists’ clothing!

    It is both sad and scary that one of the few legitimate functions of government will be effectively eliminated. The Barry Soetoro administration doesn’t want us to have someone local and relatable to call when we are injured (or threatened to be).

    Don’t laugh: The next absurdity will be the disarming of local, street-level patrols, either walking, riding, or whatnot. “What could go wrong?” they’ll tell us. “The Brits have been doing that for, like, FOREVER and look how low THEIR gun-crime rate is!”

    Remember, you heard it here first.

  • John R

    No. Eliminate grand juries. Instead just go by whatever a mob of lawless people do, especially if that mob is black. After all, we all know that black people are never racist and have a much greater insight into these things than us dumb White people have. (Although I am being sarcastic, I believe that Tim Wise said pretty much the same thing and he was serious!)

  • Fighting_Northern_Spirit

    I first saw it on Facebook about a week ago, no one doubted its authenticity but I withheld judgment. It certainly showed the typical black MO – the sucker punch, the abuse of the elderly and defenseless, the blow to the back of the head from a companion – but I thought the heavy guy looked a little too short and too old to be Michael Brown. Then I saw this: “Does this video show Michael Brown beating an old man? Not likely,” David Clark Scott, Christian Science Monitor, December 13, 2014. Snopes is often unreliable, but at least they give their reasons, and some of their objections matched mine.

  • Michigan Patriot

    No ! Its the blacks who need more training !

  • donttreadonme9

    the grand jury did exactly as it should. this is an obvious attempt to control the us justice system to their interests and to start a racial war. obama is succeeding.