6 Things the Obama Administration Is Doing to Improve Police-Community Relations

Erin Dooley, ABC News, May 18, 2015

Amid continued tension between police and communities of color, President Obama will travel to Camden, New Jersey this afternoon to highlight the city’s efforts improve police-community relations.

In cities like Camden, “for too long, both jobs and hope have been hard to find. That sense of unfairness and powerlessness has helped to fuel the kind of unrest we’ve seen in Ferguson and Baltimore and New York and other cities across our country,” White House senior advisor Valerie Jarrett told reporters. “It has many causes, from a basic lack of opportunity to folks feeling unfairly targeted by the police.”

But Camden–recently named a “promise zone” and a My Brother’s Keeper community challenge partner–is making strides, and the Obama administration wants to help other cities follow suit.

Here are six things they’re doing to shore up trust between law enforcement and minority communities:

1. Confidence ‘Blueprint’

After months of study by the president’s task force on 21st century policing, administration today is releasing its final “blueprint” for building trust between officers and the communities they serve.

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2. Data, Data, Data.

Statisticians, get ready: the White House has also launched a police data initiative designed to increase transparency and identify problematic trends.

According to officials, 21 jurisdictions have committed to release 101 data sets not previously accessible to the public, like reports on use of force, pedestrian and vehicle stops, and officer-involved shootings. (The administration’s “open data playbook” will set out best practices for other jurisdictions that want to post data publicly.)

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3. $163 Million

The Justice Department today is announcing $163 million in hiring grants for positions focused on building community trust.

4. Virtual Body Cam Toolkit

In the wake of the Ferguson protests last year, President Obama pledged $75 million to buy 50,000 body cameras.

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5. Bayonets, Be Gone

To curb the “militarization” of local police that upset so many people during the Ferguson protests, President Obama has authorized a series of recommendations to regulate the transfer of equipment from federal agencies to state/local law enforcement.

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6. National Community Policing Tour

Newly confirmed Attorney General Loretta Lynch is slated to travel to Cincinnati as part of a “national community policing tour.”

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