Law Enforcement Leaders Launch Event
On October 21st, over 130 police chiefs, sheriffs, prosecutors, and attorneys general from all 50 states joined together as a surprising new voice calling for the end to unnecessary incarceration in the U.S. — while maintaining public safety.
Our new group, Law Enforcement Leaders to Reduce Crime and Incarceration, marks an unprecedented partnership among the nation’s top law enforcement leaders to push reforms to reduce incarceration while strengthening public safety. We launched with a press conference at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.
As reported on the front page of The New York Times, our group plans “to push for alternatives to arrests, reducing the number of criminal laws and ending mandatory minimum prison sentences.” The New York Times editorial board noted the potential impact of the group: “More than anyone else, the police understand what violent crime looks like. They risk their lives every day. If they can stand up and say that America needs to change fundamentally the way it handles crime and punishment, everyone should be listening.” Coverage of the launch was aired on news networks across the country.
Watch the press conference below.
President Barack Obama hosted members of Law Enforcement Leaders at the White House last Thursday for a discussion. Ronal Serpas, group co-chair and former Superintendent of the New Orleans Police Department, and Charles Beck, Chief of the Los Angeles Police Department, urged the president and Attorney General Loretta Lynch to work with Congress to pass reforms to reduce imprisonment while keeping the country safe. The event was webcast by The Marshall Project and Yahoo! News.
“We’re in a unique moment in which, on a bipartisan basis, across the political spectrum, people are asking hard questions about our criminal justice system and how we can make it both smart, effective, just, fair,” said President Obama. “I’m encouraged by the fact … that law enforcement is making this point over and over again – because they have the credibility because of the courage and the hard work and they’re on the front lines.”
Watch the White House discussion below.
Click here to read Attorney General Loretta Lynch’s Opening Remarks at the White House Conversation on Criminal Justice Reform. Click here to read Co-Chair Ronal Serpas’ remarks introducing President Barack Obama. Click here to read the discussion between the President, Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck, U.S. Attorney for Colorado John Walsh, and moderator Marshall Project Editor-in-Chief Bill Keller.
In USA Today Serpas and Garry McCarthy, group co-chair and Superintendent of the Chicago Police Department, wrote, “With momentum for criminal justice reform accelerating, we want to leave no doubt where the law enforcement community stands. We need less incarceration, not more, to help us do our jobs and keep all Americans safe.” On National Public Radio McCarthy added, “There’s only so much room for people being incarcerated, and there’s only so many people who really need to be incarcerated … Looking at things like diversion versus prison time for narcotics possession I don’t think is that bad an idea.”
For a full list of members, click here.
In the coming months, Law Enforcement Leaders will engage in a campaign to explain to the public and lawmakers that it is indeed possible to reduce crime while also reducing incarceration, and call on lawmakers to take action. Read the group’s Statement of Principles here.