July 2016 Newsletter

Top Law Enforcement Groups Push Candidates to Reduce Imprisonment

The nation’s oldest and largest law enforcement associations are calling on the presumptive presidential nominees to embrace policies that would reduce crime and incarceration together ahead of both parties’ national conventions.

Not only will such changes promote public safety, the officials say, they could help repair relationships between police and communities, which have been deeply strained after the recent tragedies in Dallas, Minnesota, and Louisiana.

In a letter to Republican Donald J. Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton, leading groups representing more than 30,000 current and former police chiefs, sheriffs, prosecutors, district attorneys, attorneys’ general and U.S. Attorneys from all 50 states call for sensible steps to address burgeoning prison populations. They say curbing unnecessary incarceration will reduce crime by redirecting resources where they’re most needed — to apprehend and bring to justice the most dangerous and serious offenders.

It marks the first time the law enforcement community has united with one voice to ask major party candidates to support reducing imprisonment.

“We believe there is an urgent need for the next Administration to help promote the public safety of this country, reduce recidivism, and reform sentencing policies,” the letter reads. “Though this may seem counterintuitive, we know from our experience as law enforcement officials that over-relying on incarceration does not deter crime.”

“In the wake of the tragedies last week, it’s even more critical to reform and strengthen our criminal justice system,” said Ronal Serpas, chairman of Law Enforcement Leaders to Reduce Crime and Incarceration. “All Americans want a safe place to live. These are concrete steps we can take to help us all move forward together in this challenging time.”

The Major Cities Chiefs Association, National District Attorneys Association, Association of Prosecuting Attorneys, Law Enforcement Leaders, and Police Foundation all signed the letter. Read more in The New York Times and USA Today.

Serpas: Time to Unite Behind Common Goals

Ronal Serpas called the recent shootings in Dallas, Falcon Heights, and Baton Rouge “devastating” in a statement last week.

“Seven families are grieving a loved one and three communities have been deeply shaken,” he said.

Serpas reiterated how important it is to have trust between law enforcement and the public, calling it “essential to keeping Americans safe.”

“As investigations continue we’ll learn more about the deaths of Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, and five officers in Dallas,” Serpas said. “But one thing I know now is every cop wants what every American wants: a safe place to live. We are all in this together, and in the days and weeks ahead I’m hopeful that common goal will guide the work that leads us to a better place.”

Serpas and Law Enforcement Leaders’ thoughts are with Dallas Police Chief David Brown, a group member, and all seven families who lost a loved one during this difficult time.

Read more in The Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Reuters, The Atlantic, CBS New Orleans, and The Marshall Project.

*Photo credit: C. Holmes, Flickr

Group Members Talk Importance of Strong Police and Community Ties

Robert White, a member of Law Enforcement Leaders and the police chief of Denver, Colo., had a strong message for the 36 graduates of the city’s police academy last month. “Your job gives you authority, but your behavior gives you respect,” he said.

White told the department’s newest officers they were “caretakers of the community,” and emphasized the importance of understanding between citizens and police. Building stronger ties between police and communities is a Law Enforcement Leaders’ priority.

Ronal Serpas also touched on community policing as a way to reduce crime in an interview with Bret Baier on FOX.

Roberto Villasenor, a Law Enforcement Leaders member and former police chief of Tucson, Ariz., told The Atlantic that police should not be used for additional law enforcement purposes that can strain ties with the public, such as immigration enforcement.

He and fellow member Cyrus Vance, Jr. (pictured), Manhattan’s district attorney, attended the Aspen Ideas Festival to speak about criminal justice reform. Vance appeared on a panel about the power of prosecutors in justice reform, and gave a lunchtime talk on how prosecutors can build communities. Villasenor was on a panel highlighting how youth poverty can lead to crime.

Meanwhile, Baltimore Police Commissioner and Law Enforcement Leader Kevin Davis announced that the city has rewritten its use of force policy, with an emphasis on the “sanctity of human life.” And Chris Magnus, a group member and the police chief in Tucson, Ariz., said his department is “working on a program that would focus on rehab over arrests.”