Criminal Justice

Gary Mayor at President Obama’s Policing Meeting

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By: Hilary Powell

December 2, 2014 — Northwest Indiana had a presence at a presidential table on Monday, when one local leader was invited to a day of meetings at the White House tackling tensions in Ferguson, Mo.

Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson joined other elected officials, civil rights activists and faith leaders at the White House to meet with President Barack Obama to discuss community policing collaborations between citizens and law enforcement.

There was only a “Lakeshore Report” reporter initially covering Freeman Wilson’s White House visit on social media, which was not publicized outside of press pool reports.

After participating in the discussion, she issued the following statement:

“Yesterday, I was humbled to attend a historic meeting at the White House that centered on developing policy solutions to the intractable challenges presented by racial tension, police/community relations, poverty, and the importance that every citizen has confidence in the system of justice. A diverse group of law enforcement, civil rights activists, faith community members, elected officials and administration officials echoed the collective sense of urgency expressed by President Obama, Vice President Biden and Attorney General Holder.

We discussed the fact that we must be committed to changing policy in a way that positively impacts people’s lives while giving law enforcement officers the training, tools and support needed to do an effective job on behalf of citizens. We agreed that both law enforcement officers and community members have a right to expect to go home to their families at the end of the day and to suggest strategies around community policing, responsible use of the 1033 program, and the utility of technology to aid law enforcement and citizens alike.

The most significant aspect of this gathering was that the individuals present gathered with a mind to work and with the understanding that if we are diligent, our work has the potential to positively impact lives and change the course of this country. While we understand the gravity of the all of the circumstances related to the lives and deaths of Michael Brown and too many other like him, we are confident that by working under clear guidance provided by the President, we can improve the state of police/community relations in this country and peel away at the layers of poverty and its by-products. Once again, our President has distinguished himself as a leader who is willing to tackle difficult issues even when it is not politically expedient or comfortable.

While I am honored to be one of five mayors presents, our work must extend far beyond an invitation to the White House. We are engaged to change the course of this country to ensure that all voices are valued and heard.”

“Lakeshore Report” will have more on the mayor’s White House session on Friday at 7 p.m.

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FACT SHEET: Strengthening Community Policing

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