In the aftermath of ongoing nationwide protests against police violence in the Black community, President Barack Obama Thursday signed an executive order to create a panel that will gather recommendations to help strengthen trust between law enforcement and local communities, according to a White House news release.
The 11-member panel is comprised of law enforcement representatives, community leaders, academics, and youth leaders, including Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey and Laurie Robinson, a George Mason University professor who is a former U.S. assistant attorney general.
“Recent events in Ferguson, Staten Island, Cleveland, and around the country have highlighted the importance of strong, collaborative relationships between local police and the communities they protect,” the statement says.
Ongoing protests erupted across the country recently after two grand juries declined to indict two White police officers in the deaths of two unarmed Black men in separate incidences. This summer, 18-year-old Michael Brown was shot and killed by Ferguson, Mo., officer Darren Wilson after a brief confrontation and Eric Garner, 43, died after New York City officer Daniel Pantaleo placed him in a chokehold, a tactic banned for decades by the department. Just last month in Cleveland, Ohio, a White officer gunned down 12-year-old Tamir Rice, who was Black and armed only with a toy gun while playing on a playground.
“As the nation has observed, trust between law enforcement agencies and the people they protect and serve is essential to the stability of our communities, the integrity of our criminal justice system, and the safe and effective delivery of policing services,” the White House statement reads.
The president’s order directs the panel to research the issue and prepare recommendations for him. An initial report will be due to the president in March.