NYU Experts Offer ‘Evidence-Based’ Smart Policing Plan

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Police graduation ceremony, Philadelphia 2019. Courtesy City of Philadelphia via Flickr.

New York University School of Law’s Center on Race, Inequality and the Law released a report on Tuesday outlining an evidence-based approach to law enforcement focused on community safety.

The center called it “a roadmap to smart policing under President-elect Joe Biden’s Administration.”

Authors called their version “a direct counterpoint to the unlawfully produced and incomplete” report of President Donald Trump’s Commission on Law Enforcement and the Administration of Justice, which The Crime Report described on Monday.

Contrary to the theory that more policing, prosecution, and incarceration will achieve public safety, the NYU authors say they provide “a new vision for inclusive public safety” that examines how the justice system has “driven up incarceration rates, disproportionately harmed communities of color, and failed to provide true public safety.”

Anthony Thompson, founding faculty director of  NYU School of Law’s Center on Race, Inequality and the Law, noted that the Trump commission was composed of law enforcement officials.

Thompson said, “We are responding with data from academics and those with a background in criminal defense, civil rights, and community advocacy, supported by a coalition of law enforcement, faith communities, crime survivors, community groups, activists, academics, universities. This is a more complete and balanced picture of how justice in America should be administered.”

One co-author of the NYU effort, chief Baltimore prosecutor Marilyn Mosby, noted that a judge ruled that the Trump commission had operated in violation of federal law.

Mosby said that when such a panel “fails to abide by the same laws they were tasked to uphold, it is imperative for community leaders and representatives to step in and offer alternative solutions to safety and justice reform.”

Among others who co-authored the NYU report are Stephanie Morales, Commonwealth’s Attorney for Portsmouth, Va., chief Chicago prosecutor Kim Foxx, chief Boston prosecutor Rachael Rollins, and Garry McFadden, Mecklenburg County, N.C., Sheriff.

Among recommendations in the NYU report:

      • Developing factual, community-based strategies that “provide greater stability, transparency, and accountability.”
      • Reorienting government priorities toward solutions that will both prevent and provide accountability for serious violent offenses while diverting those who commit non-serious offenses rooted in mental health challenges, housing and food insecurity, poverty, or substance use disorders.
      • Providing community members the tools to work with local officials to guide public safety policy by tailoring solutions to local social and economic needs.

The NYU authors said they focused on “major areas where mechanisms of control and punishment, deployed most harshly against communities of color, can be transformed to achieve true safety: policing, prosecution, and sentencing,” proposals they said were in line with President-elect Joe Biden’s criminal justice plan.

Ted Gest is president of Criminal Justice Journalists and Washington Bureau Chief of The Crime Report.

One thought on “NYU Experts Offer ‘Evidence-Based’ Smart Policing Plan

  1. While the Center on Race, Inequality, and the Law presents its “research” as a counterpoint to President Trump’s law enforcement commission and claims to be laying out a criminal justice plan for President-elect Biden, its report is no more objective than the earlier one. Two of the so-called researchers (Kim Foxx and Marilyn Mosby) have previously voiced strong-anti-police sentiments and have used their offices to selectively decline to prosecute a number of high-profile cases. Anthony Thompson, the founding faculty director of NYU School of Law’s Center on Race, Inequality, pointed out that the Trump commission was composed of law enforcement officials. How is that different from this report, carrying the names of four government prosecutors and a county sheriff? Each is a criminal justice insider; their only difference from the earlier commission is their viewpoints. It is unclear whether this report and the way Ted Gest described it is merely an exercise to refute the Trump commission or whether NYU Law School trying to say something important. If the latter, the effort can only be described as unsuccessful.

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