Gary Mayor Chairs Committee on Police-Involved Shootings

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December 17, 2014 — Last month, an area mayor has a national task added to her agenda.

Conference of Mayors President Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson appointed Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson to chair a working group of mayors
and police chiefs charged with developing policy recommendations in response to the aftermath of the police-involved shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson (MO).

Lessons that can be learned from Ferguson were discussed during the Conference of Mayors community policing meeting held in Little Rock October 8-9, and Johnson pledged at that meeting to establish the working group. The working group will meet several times in December and early January by conference call and then during the Conference of Mayors Winter Meeting in Washington January 21-23.

“I was humbled to be selected to chair this very important working group,” said Freeman-Wilson. “I look forward to sitting down with insightful, forward thinking Mayors and Police Chiefs who are sure to provide real solutions that will help improve relationships between law enforcement and the citizens they serve.”

During the January conference, the committee will present its recommendations to the Conference of Mayors Task Force of Mayors and Police Chiefs and then to the Conference of Mayors Criminal Justice Committee. Mayors appointed to the working group, all of whom participated in the Little Rock meeting, are Shane Bemis of Gresham, Mitch Landrieu of New Orleans, Michael Nutter of Philadelphia, Annise Parker of Houston, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake of Baltimore, Francis Slay of St. Louis, and Mark Stodola of Little Rock.

Police chiefs in the working group, all of whom also participated in the Little Rock meeting, are Commissioner Anthony Batts of Baltimore, Chief Kenton Buckner of Little Rock, Chief Chris Burbank of Salt Lake City, Executive Assistant Chief and Chief of Staff Martha Montalvo of Houston, Commissioner Charles Ramsey of Philadelphia, Chief Sam Somers of Sacramento, and Chief Yost Zakhary of Woodway (TX).

Conference of Mayors staff has pulled together issue areas for possible consideration by the working group based on the discussions in Little Rock and that occurred during the Sacramento Leadership Meeting in September. Among those issue areas are:

• Providing transparent, honest, accurate, and timely communications to the public and the media;
• Assuring mayor/police chief coordination and communication around an incident;
• Building and maintain trust between the police and the communities they serve;
• Practicing constitutional policing;
• Improving police officer recruitment and training; and
• Addressing racial and economic disparities and community frustration with and distrust of the police and institutions of government.

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