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When in Doubt, Create a Task Force | U.S. PATRIOT NEWS & REVIEWS

When in Doubt, Create a Task Force

After weeks of protests following grand jury refusals to indict officers in both New York and Ferguson, President Obama decided enough was enough. The country was being torn apart and something needed to be done.

So he formed a task force.

On March 1, 2015, the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing filed its interim report, and President Obama issued a public statement thanking the members and promising change. But will any of the recommendations really make a difference?

President Barack Obama speaks to the press after a meeting with members of the President's Task Force on 21st Century Policing, in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, March 2, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)
President Barack Obama speaks to the press after a meeting with members of the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing, in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, March 2, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

The interim report is 115 pages in length and covers a wide array of topics including “Building Trust and Integrity” to “Officer and Wellness Safety” and includes what are referred to as “59 concrete recommendations for research, action and further study.” However, an in-depth review reveals a host of deficiencies with both the scope of the task force’s focus and the nature of its recommendations.

  • The Task Force was given only 90 days to hold public meetings, conduct interviews and issue a report. Not only is this an unrealistically short period of time for such a broad topic, but it is not rooted in anything other than an attempt to obtain a quick solution to a long term issue. In other words, it was more important to find answers than to find the correct
  • The focus of the Task Force was too overly broad and the completed report has very little to do with building trust or improving police/community relations. Even when the task force began looking at legitimate issues, such as supplying police with military surplus equipment, it soon found itself off track and discussing the need to supply each officer with a personal trauma kit and ballistic vests. Although I do not doubt the value of either piece of personal safety equipment, providing this equipment has nothing to do with increasing public trust in law enforcement.
  • Many of the recommendations are impossible to implement at a national level. Not only does the report fail to recognize that every department faces different challenges and needs based upon size, location and the population make-up it serves, it also fails to recognize a lack of federal jurisdiction to do so. The majority of law enforcement agencies are not at the federal level but managed by state or local governments. Although the report recommends a National Commission on Law Enforcement Standards and discusses the many attempts to establish such a governing body, it fails to understand that the main reason these efforts have failed is because the Federal government has no right to establish such oversight.
  • Even the Task Force members could not propose a realistic means of implementing their own recommendations. Throughout the report there are suggestions such as “agencies should be encouraged…” or “The U.S. Department of Justice should encourage and assist departments…” In reality, the Implementation section is a mere 1 ½ pages containing three recommendations:
    • The President should direct all federal law enforcement agencies to review the recommendations made by the Task Force on 21st Century Policing and, to the extent practicable, adopt those that can be implemented at the federal level.
    • The U.S. Department of Justice should explore public-private partnership opportunities, starting by convening a meeting with local, regional, and national foundations to discuss the proposals for reform described in this report and seek their engagement and support in advancing implementation of these recommendations.
    • The U.S. Department of Justice should charge its Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS Office) with assisting the law enforcement field in addressing current and future challenges.

All in all, the report appears to be little more than page after page of repurposed and recycled fluff surrounded by pie in the sky wishful thinking with no serious discussion on how to actually make any purposeful changes. In other words, it is a waste of three months.

Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.

Tom Burrell

Tom enlisted in the US Marine Corps Reserves in 1987. Following service in Desert Storm, he transitioned to active duty with the US Coast Guard. In 1997 he left the USCG to pursue a position in conservation & maritime law enforcement. Tom is currently a Captain and he oversees several programs, including his agency investigation unit. He is also a training instructor in several areas including firearms, defensive tactics and first aid/CPR. In 2006 Tom received his Associate’s Degree in Criminal Justice from Harrisburg Area Community College and in 2010 a Bachelor’s Degree from Penn State University.
Tom Burrell

1 thought on “When in Doubt, Create a Task Force

  1. It doesn’t really matter what the task force recommended because the pen and phone guy will interpret it to mean he needs to have the power to “nationalize” all local police forces and place them under federal (his) control at any time there is a crisis as determine by him to insure the safety of minorities. He will due this by an executive order.

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