Obama creates task force on policing

Police form a line in the street under a holiday sign after a grand jury returned no indictment in the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri
Police form a line in the street under a holiday sign after a grand jury returned no indictment in the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., Nov. 24, 2014.

President Barack Obama signed an executive order Thursday creating a task force aimed at strengthening the relationship between local police and the communities they serve—the latest step in his administration's response to the anger over a spate of recent police shootings.

The Task Force on 21st Century Policing will be co-chaired by Philadelphia police commissioner Charles Ramsey, and by Laurie Robinson, a professor of criminology at George Mason University and a former assistant attorney general at the U.S. Justice Department.

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The White House announced Thursday that among its other members will be Brittany Packnett, a St. Louis-area activist and a member of the Ferguson Commission created by Missouri governor Jay Nixon; Jose Lopez, a Brooklyn non-profit focused on civil rights; Bryan Stevenson, a law professor and the executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative; and Cedric Alexander, the National President of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives.

The White House announced the Task Force earlier this month after meeting with civil rights leaders and activists protesting the police shootings of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, and others. It said the panel would look at how to promote effective crime reduction while building public trust, and would prepare a report and recommendations within 90 days of its creation. It will collaborate closely with the Justice Department's Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) program, which works with local police departments to help them find ways to ease tensions between law enforcement and citizens.

The White House has also announced that it will ask Congress for a $263 million package to fund body cameras and training for police.