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President highlights efforts to build stronger, safer communities

Washington, D.C., May 18 – President Obama’s agenda is focused on expanding opportunity for all: restoring economic security to hard-hit American families; building stronger neighborhoods and communities; and ensuring young people have the opportunity to reach their full potential, the White House says.

The President, in Camden NJ, highlighted innovative steps taken by the city, which has struggled with one of the nation's highest violent crime rates, to create economic opportunity, help police do their jobs more safely, and reduce crime in the process. Changes include increasing the number of police officer boots on the ground and changing the way their officers interact with the community. The Camden County Police Department has instituted a community policing initiative, and just last month, the city accepted the My Brother’s Keeper Community Challenge and was separately designated as a Promise Zone, representing the culmination of five years of collaborative efforts aimed at improving the quality of life for Camden children, youth, and families.

The President also described how communities are adopting the recommendations of the Task Force on 21st Century Policing and new tools all cities can utilize to build and maintain the important trust between the law enforcement officers who put their lives on the line every day, and the communities they have sworn to serve and protect. These tools include a Blueprint for Improved Community Policing, the White House Police Data Initiative, Community Policing Grants, and a Body-Worn Camera Tool Kit.

In addition, over the next few weeks, members of the President’s Cabinet will be traveling across the country to lift up best practices and highlight other cities where local leaders are partnering with federal agencies, foundations, private sector partners, and police departments to improve the quality of life in their communities on issues from healthcare to education to transparency in policing. 

The administration is deeply engaged with these communities and others across the country, showing what can be achieved when people from all walks of life come together to expand opportunity for all Americans, the White House says. 

Last December, President Obama created the Task Force on 21st Century Policing with a mission to identify best practices and make recommendations on how such practices can promote effective crime reduction while building public trust.

The Task Force Report emphasized the importance of data and technology in helping local law enforcement agencies excel in their work and build community trust. Even when local law enforcement agencies are willing to explore new ways to use and release such data, there are often technical and other impediments to doing so. To break down barriers, the White House, with assistance from foundations like the Laura & John Arnold Foundation, launched the Police Data Initiative (PDI) with police chiefs and municipal Chief Technology Officers from sixteen jurisdictions that we expect to be leaders in this space. Since the launch, five additional jurisdictions joined the effort. As part of the initiative, these jurisdictions are working alongside technologists, community organizations and police associations to implement multiple commitments to action that leverage open data to increase transparency and build community trust, better utilize early warning systems to identify problems, increase internal accountability, and decrease inappropriate uses of force.

In addition to the work completed by the Task Force on 21st Century Policing, a separate federal interagency working group – led by the Departments of Justice, Defense and Homeland Security – has now completed an extensive review of federal programs that support the transfer of equipment to state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies. On the basis of that review, the working group developed a series of concrete steps to enhance accountability, increase transparency, and better serve the needs of law enforcement and local communities. The President has directed departments and agencies to put the working group’s recommendations into practice and continue to partner with law enforcement and local communities during the implementation process.



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