You may be surprised to learn former President Barack Obama is still directing the actions of police forces around the country.

In the wake of George Floyd’s death in police custody, Barack Obama created The Reimagining Policing Pledge, a call for mayors and local officials to review and reform use of force policies, redefine public safety, and combat systemic racism within law enforcement.

More than 350 cities across the country signed up for the pledge and promised to present their report and recommendations in 90 days. One of those cities is Racine, WI, located about 30 miles south of Milwaukee and 50 miles north of downtown Chicago, with a population of approximately 77,000.

In his report, Racine Mayor Cory Mason said he directed the Task Force to review the Racine Police Department’s use of force policies and decide if and how the City should implement community oversight.

Comprised of eight diverse community members, the Mayor’s Police Reform Task Force held six virtual, 3-hour meetings from July to September 2020.

The Task Force included Yolanda Blair, Owner, Yogi’s Pud’n; Danielle Johnson, Secretary, NAACP Racine Branch; Pastor Ernest Ni’A Wayman, AME Church; Rep. Greta Neubaue,r Wisconsin State Representative; Carl Fields EX-incarcerated People Organizing (EXPO) Community Organizer for Racine/Kenosha Chapter; Fabi Maldonado, Racine County Board Supervisor; Lieutenant Jessie Metoyer, RPD Liaison to the Task Force; Wally Rendon, Community Leader and Chuck Tyler, Author, “Youth in the Center of My Heart.”

Additionally, the report included input and suggestions from community residents, inviting them to share their experiences with Racine policing and visions for the future.

It was one of those suggestions that set off some alarm bells among military veterans and members of police organizations.

Under the heading “Hiring Practices,” the report said, “Exclude ex-military due to a possible militaristic approach.” Also, included under the heading was “hire more minorities,” “screen for bias and PTSD” and “recruit youth.”

City communications director Shannon Powell said comments about veterans in the report were included because citizens who are concerned about police force militarization have the right to express their opinions. She said the report was “informational” and “not a policy document.”

Per the Journal Times, Jim Palmer, the executive director of the Wisconsin Professional Police Association and who also serves on the board of the National Association of Police Organizations, said that he’s heard from several members of local law enforcement unions who are concerned that the city might be considering such a prohibition.

Although veterans make up about 6 percent of the U.S. population, they represent about 20 percent of law enforcement officers.

“There is no research, that I’m aware of at least, that former members of our armed forces are more likely to use force … they would have arguably more training, more ways to avoid using lethal force,” Palmer said. “I’m not concerned that this is something the city would pursue … I think there’s no quantitative basis for it.”

While the Racine report suggests “hiring youth” would be a good idea, California is considering a bill requiring police recruits be at least 25 years old or have a bachelor’s degree before they can be sworn in to the force.

Critics of that legislation worry it could hamper recruiting efforts, particularly among veterans.

Are we the only ones to notice “suggestions” have a funny way of becoming mandates these days? Just sayin…

2 Responses

  1. Patti

    This is prejudicial and discriminating at best. Absolute Nonsense. People
    Should be hired based on experience . Qualifications and expertise. Racial and political profiling is wrong and illegal.
    Stop trying to please everyone and do what is right and just.

    Reply

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