Policing reform under a new president

Policing reform under a new president

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Police-involved shootings have come under more scrutiny nationwide over the last few years.

The Obama Administration introduced policing reforms and encouraged Justice Department investigations into police departments with allegations of bias and excessive use of force.

Now, there's new leadership at the top under President Donald Trump, and policing issues are high on his agenda.

On the White House website, the Trump Administration has a page titled "Standing Up for Our Law Enforcement Community."

It states reducing violent crime is a big priority for President Trump. Crimes, like homicide, are up in cities like Charlotte as well as nationwide. Trump says his will be a "law and order" administration and that "the dangerous anti-police atmosphere in America is wrong."

As law enforcement agencies nationwide wait and see how policies could change, WBTV examined the similarities and differences between the current and past administrations.

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department adopted many of the policing reform recommendations under President Obama's 21st Century Task Force on Policing. The reform is largely based on building trust, community policing, and transparency.

At CMPD, some of those adopted recommendations are reflected through the "Cops and Barbers" program, which facilitates engagement between officers and the community, the issuance of body-worn cameras, and the release of that video under court order in officer-involved shootings.

"The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department remains committed to the culture shift towards 21st Century Policing.  The CMPD has already adopted several recommendations from the task force and continues to identify opportunities to actualize additional recommendations," said CMPD spokesperson Rob Tufano in a statement.

None of those steps toward reform and transparency just go away under new leadership. They have been adopted by city leaders as well as Chief Kerr Putney.

Former CMPD Chief Darrel Stephens, who was consulted with the Obama task force, said President Trump's transition teams at the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security are actively engaging and talking about policy with some of the same stakeholders.

Stephens, who leads the Major Cities Chiefs Association, will meet with other law enforcement groups in Washington, D.C next month. Reducing violent crime will certainly be part of the discussion.

"We are very interested in working with them on that issue and others dealing with policing and public safety," said Stephens.

Trump has said he wants more law enforcement, more community engagement, and more effective policing, which are all familiar themes.

Cracking down on illegal immigration is also big part of the President's crime-fighting strategy. On the White House webpage, Trump states he is "committed to building a border wall to stop illegal immigration, to stop the gangs and the violence, and to stop the drugs from pouring into our communities. He is dedicated to enforcing our border laws, ending sanctuary cities, and stemming the tide of lawlessness associated with illegal immigration."

It's unclear how that vision could affect local police officers. The federal 287-g program which enabled local police officers and deputies to question immigration status was largely scaled back several years ago under the Obama Administration.

Stephens said his group is ready to support the steps they believe will help police and communities, and that they will speak out against reforms they disagree with, as they have always done.

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