tv U.S. Conference of Mayors Discussion on Law Enforcement Initiatives CSPAN February 28, 2022 9:59am-10:53am EST
we're funded by these television companies and more, including charter telecommunications. that's why charter has invested billions, building infrastructure, upgrading technology, empowering opportunity in communities big and small. charter is connecting us. >> charter communications supports c-span as a public service giving you a front-row seat to democracy. coming up next, a discussion on law enforcement initiatives and reforms with associate attorney general vanita gupta and charles ramsey, former police chief for washington, d.c., and philadelphia. i spoke with mayors from around the country during the u.s. conference of mayors. >> with that, i will turn it over to vanita gupta to share some words of wisdom with us.
sorry. i'm going -- >> i had a chance to talk with many of you this morning on our gun-related issues and mayor lightfoot is correct, a lot of our departments recover a lot of illegally obtained firearms that are coming from across state lines. as we discussed this far, there are certainly substantial problems, but we truly see a substantial national problem. apart of what i want us to discuss today, and i know vanita will help us, what are the spaces for federal collaboration? we can't do it alone. we need to make sure that we're not only looking at federal collaboration in terms of enforcement dollars and officers, but also efforts that make long-term transformational change. it can't just be 50 law enforcement officers one summer that makes a difference on a
generational problem from kansas, chicago or any of your cities. that's why we are keen on this conversation with all of you today. but i know you didn't come here to listen to the mayor of kansas city. we got a bit of a late start. ms. gupta, we're happy to hear from you. >> well, it is truly great to be here. i love coming to the united states congress of mayors. great to be with so many friends on this panel. thank you, mayor lightfoot and mayor lucas, for your leadership. i want to congratulate mayor swarez. i'm delighted to be here with all of you this evening. being a mayor is one of the hardest jobs in the country. you are on the front lines of some of your nation's most complex problems and the decisions you're making every day have an immediate impact on people's lives and communities. there's no question that over the last two years you have also
faced unprecedented challenges between a pandemic, large-scale demonstrations for racial justice in your communities, a rise in hate crimes and gun violence, public safety, as you all know, is a top priority for the department of justice and we have dedicated substantial resources to supporting our state and local partners as they investigate and prosecute violent crime. but experience and research have taught us that enforcement alone is not enough to prevent crime. and mayor lightfoot has been alluding to this already. in may, the attorney general announced a comprehensive strategy to reduce violent crime and the department deployed all tools, training, technical assistance, financial support to state and local jurisdictions, to strengthen communities, and to build police community trust.
last year, the department awarded over $4 billion in grants, including $1.6 billion just last month to support a wide range of programs all across the country and president biden has requested $7 billion for the department's grantmaking in fy-22. i want to first talk about the department's two highest priorities, gun violence and hate crimes. hate crimes are insidious and they instill fear across entire communities. they polarize us further, they undermine the principles which our democracy stands on. and you all know and know all too well that instances of hate crimes have surged in the last few years. can you all hear me okay, by the way? >> yes. >> the department has responded by increasing its own capacities to investigate hate crimes and incidents by enhancing the efforts of state and local governments. the fbi has enhanced hate crimes
and federal civil rights violations to its highest level to which increases resources for and focus on hate crimes prevention and investigations across all 56 of the bureaus' offices. in last weekend's attack in colleyville, texas, i want to emphasize, in the wake of that, the department's deep commitment to combating anti-semitic hate crimes and protecting people of all faiths and houses of worship. the department enforces hate crime statutes that prohibit crimes as well as using other federal laws such as those prohibiting interstate threats, arson and use of weapons of mass destruction and provides training and consultation services to faith organizations and communities about how to strengthen community relations and protect houses of worship. we've also been elevating grant streams to provide security trainings for houses of worship across the country.
of course, getting to the point that both mayor lucas and mayor lightfoot talked about, the department has been very focused, one of top enforcement priorities, is prevents firearm traffickers from providing we said to people who were previously convicted of felony offenses. last spring, five strike forces were announced consisting of teams of u.s. attorneys, state and local law enforcement partners to disrupt illegal gun trafficking networks that channel guns into chicago, new york, los angeles, the san francisco bay area and washington, d.c. we're also using our rule making authority to strengthen our responses to gun violence. proposing new rules on ghost guns so that we can keep guns out of the hands of those seeking to avoid background checks. the department is committed to
addressing violent crimes in all forms and the partnership between federal, state and local law enforcement are key to that. we also have substantial grant programs, including the jag program, and the smart policing initiative that increase state and local capacity by helping jurisdictions hire personnel by equipment, update technology, protect schools, reduce gang violence and implement evidence-based solutions to tackle chronic crime. as part of our commitment to providing police departments with the resources they need, and we know of the massive staff shortages across the country, we awarded $140 million to the program to enable 183 departments to hire over 1,000 additional officers. we're looking to increase that substantially next year. we know that the lion's share of violent crime reduction is shouldered by our state and local partners and the
partnership that we have, we know, is necessary to be able to scale up successful crime prevention and violence. one of the department's priorities right now for reducing violent crime is investing in community-based violation intervention programs and i look forward to hearing from you all about how your jurisdictions are engaging in that. as many of you have seen firsthand, community-based violence intervention focuses on reducing violent crime by establishing relationships between community leaders, service providers and people that are at the center of gun violence in local communities. rely on incredible messengers to intervene in lives, often those folks live in the same neighborhoods, cities and towns across the country have been developing innovative community violence intervention strategies as effective to the enforcement of criminal laws. another cornerstone, and i
welcome this conversation as well about your experiences with us, there's no question that effective crime prevention we lies on the legitimacy of law enforcement in the eyes of the communities they serve. and when residents trust the police, they are more likely to report crimes, to serve as witnesses, to cooperate with investigates. such trust honors our foundation's core values. the department's commitment to protecting civil rights and public safety is reflected in the many tools that we have here. to take one example that supports evidence-based programs that better respond to people with mental illness. we've heard all around the country -- and i've been hearing this from years from law enforcement and elected officials and community activists, prosecutors, judges, about that we have to be able to support behavioral health programs in communities so we
can treat and not jail those in crisis whenever possible. it protects officer safety and community safety. to promote those efforts, the department last year launched a new initiative that supports collaborations for people with metal illness and substance abuse. we're going to break out of the cycle of arrest and incarceration for the most vulnerable members of our society and refocus scarce criminal justice resources. and you're helping to lead on some of those programs and we want to be able to scale those up. we are also providing no cost technical assistance to jurisdictions that are implementing different types of reforms and community-based programs, whether they receive grants from the department or not. the department has a collaborative reform initiative
which a number of different law enforcement agencies are engaged with that provide a wide range of services to law enforcement agencies to increase accountability, do reform and build trust while keeping communities safe. an essential part of how we're providing technical assistance is we know right now morale in the departments are low. they've been strained on any number of fronts and that the law enforcement mental health and wellness is also important to the work that we need to do together. we can address effective crime prevention without ensuring that our police officers have the services that they need and the stigma on reporting mental health issues we're seeing -- you all are reading the same things we're reading, seeing suicides on the rise for police officers, frankly the job, the stress the trauma of their jobs is taking a toll and we need to be collectively addressing that. so we increased our grant funding in the millions to
support and improve law enforcement's access to mental health and wellness services and we've been able to double the number of agencies that are receiving this funding but are hoping to increase that soon as well. several of you are also aware of the civil enforcement authority that we have through our time of practice investigations and decrees that we have in 15 jurisdictions around the country. in september i issued a memo establishing a set of principles around the use of the monitors in those decrees to make sure they're efficient, effective, bringing into compliance, in the most effective way possible and transparent to the core in the public and the jurisdictions therein. we're also working right now on an initiative that is going to amass for the department and i hope will be a service to law enforcement and mayors, an initiative that is aggregating all of the best practices from
research like -- from organizations to develop and consolidate resources on best practices in communities so that you may never have a practice investigation and you are able to access technical assistance as you need it. finally, the department is developing resources and best practices on addressing mass demonstrations and civil unrest. in one of my first meetings with the united states conference of mayors on the job, i heard from many of you about the incredible challenges of the summer of 2020 and we saw some -- you know, amazing policing and some policing that further broke trust around the policing of mass demonstrations. chuck wexler has been involved in this project with us. we've been doing meetings with cities, with mayors and chiefs and community activists. we're going to be putting out a set of resources and best practices in the spring, drawing from that learning to support your effort to maintain public safety and protecting people's first amendment rights and we
hope that that will be of service. i hope also another resolution tool that the department has is the community relations service that we are adding and bolstering provides facilitation, remediation and training services in the wake of high profile incidents that can cause civil unrest. i wanted to thank you again for your leadership, your service and i hope that we will find even more ways for the department to work with all of you as you do the difficult jobs you do in your communities. thank you. >> thank you, vanita, that was very, very helpful. i'm sure people have questions about how they can access some of the programs that you talked about. let me start with discussion by -- i think going to one of the -- the heart of the issues that we're facing which is the difficulty of being the police in this environment. i really want to bring in chuck, if i can, on this conversation. i think -- i feel like every
year i say, this is the hardest time to be a police officer and then it gets even harder and harder year after year. so let me start with chuck ramsey. chuck, give us your perspective on, you know, what things that we can be doing at the local level to help support our police, while holding them constitutional. when you see survey after survey, people don't want less police, particularly not in this difficult time. but they want the police to do their job in a way that's constitutional and respectful. and a lot of the narrative around some police unions in particular is, well you're handcuffing us and not allowing us to do our job. give us your perspective as what we do as mayors to strike that right balance. >> thank you, mayor. first of all, don't fall into that trap of i can't do my job because of x, y and z. it's not that people -- people want constitutional policing. they want good policing.
and what they don't want is abuse. and one of the dangers here now, especially in times of rising crime, someone mentioned it earlier, it goes up and comes down, it goes up and comes down. when it's up, there are people -- in your own communities -- that will be calling for -- bring backstop and frisk, do this, do that. you can't -- you just can't give into that sort of thing. good, solid policing is what is needed. but with that, it has to be an effort on the entire city government. i really -- i stopped thinking of public safety in the traditional term of police fire, emergency management, so forth, i think of community safety now. because it goes much broader than just thinking about public safety. now you think about mental health, you think about poverty, homelessness, you think about all of those different things that really make a community safe. you have the power -- in fact, you're the only ones that have
the power to bring these agencies together and really create a plan that is sustainable and old people's feet to the fire, not just police. this isn't just the policing issue. it goes beyond just policing. police are a part of it, but not the only solution. and so you have the power to do that as mayors. and i think if we all sit down and really kind of talk this through and really come up with -- and each plan will be different because each city is different. but i really do think that's the approach that needs to take. this is a tremendous opportunity for people who want to get into policing. it's a tough job. it's always been a tough job. it has been. but it's tremendous opportunity because now you can actually see change happening. it's an exciting time in my opinion. i spent 47 years in active service as a police officer. i would do it all over again in a heartbeat if i had the opportunity.
too damn old now, but i would. i would. i love the profession. there's a lot of work that we need to do, there's no question about it. but we have to sell it for the positive part. you make a difference. you're mayors because you make a difference in communities. well, cops make a difference too. every interaction they're making a difference of somebody's life and that's worth it. and that's what we have to really kind of get across when we're recruiting. one last thing, and i'll turn it over to the other chuck, you're short of police officers. do not sacrifice quality and background checks and everything else because i would rather have fewer police officers and have the right cops than have more cops and have guys that keep me at the typewriter all time because they're always doing something they don't have any business doing. don't compromise on that. it's just too important. because think about it, you're stuck with them for the next 20, 30 years. you want to get it right.
>> that's a really, really great point, because all of us, i think, are scrambling, and are seeing challenges with filling up our recruiting classes. chuck wexler, let me take the question in a slightly different way. one of the things that frankly as an -- as an employer i think about is how do i reach millennials, continual question. that question is really i think challenging when you're talking about law enforcement because it's a different breed of young people that are coming into the profession now. what are you seeing from your perspective and what tips can you give us to help us in recruiting efforts and also supporting our police. >> thanks, mayor. and good to see you. i had the opportunity to work with her a number of years ago in the chicago police department and great to see you. before i answer that, i just want to shout out to vanita gupta. if you listen to her speech, she
touched on a number of things that are really important. she talked about guns, she talked about violence, she talked about morale, she talked about restoring public trust. we did a survey of all of our police chiefs, that was the number one criteria, what was the most important thing that keeps them up at night, and it's restoring public trust, and she mentioned something about monitoring, about better control of monitoring. we've been watching that for years. she knows this issues. she's doing something. just a little shout-out that we have someone that's hearing us. let me ask you all a question, the mayors, which i love to talk to. raise your hand if you're having trouble hiring police officers. okay. raise your hand if you're not having trouble hiring police officers. okay. let me hear from the two mayors who said they're not having trouble. what are you doing right? because this is the number one
issue that keeps mayors and police chiefs up. i met with mayor fisher beforehand. tell us what you're doing that the one or two things that's making a difference. what cities are you from? >> to be honest, i don't know. we've had no trouble recruiting folks. i guess, something that we have done for a while is we made an effort before my time, maybe, 10, 15 years ago, that we seriously needed to diversify our force. so there's been a long-standing partnership and relationship between the police department and the police chief and community leaders and doing a lot of proactive outreach to minority communities, getting them to apply, and we've carried that forward during my term and it's been really successful. we've had no shortage of people applying. >> how about you? >> can you hear me? i'm in york, pennsylvania. i've only got 100 police officers. and we have been also working very much -- when i came into
office four years ago, we were 91% white males and we're now down to 80%. and we're working in that direction. we have personal -- we were also working in a con shore m with six or seven other police departments. so testing would go through all of these different groups. now we've gone on our own and people that want to work for us, come directly to us and then we maintain really good communication with them and kind of also build them up. the final thing that i'm really excited about that hasn't started yet, we started a public safety academy in our city high school and -- but, you still have that three-year gap between 18 and 21 when they can become police officers. so we've started a police cadet program, basically an internship, where we're paying the young people to be unarmed police folks in the communities so they get to build up community trust for three years
and trust with the other officers before they're given the honor -- >> we call that going upstream. chuck ramsey, my friend here, he was an 18-year-old kid in chicago. and he's working in a grocery store and two cops come in and ask him, what do you want to be in the next five years? if they hadn't come into that grocery store, he wouldn't be sitting next to me. and so that's what going upstream. that's some of the effective things that departments are doing. departments are also looking at, you know, what do we have to do to incentivize. like baltimore, right, mayor, baltimore is looking at, you know, how do we get good people and help them with education? >> approved it today actually, sir. got it approved. >> and then baltimore, if i'm not mistaken, you say things like, you know, make a difference, be the change. so other cities are not doing that. other cities are going in the
other direction which is, what would you have to do to get more people to apply. i think chuck ramsey is absolutely right. you appeal to people's better instincts. you make it more selective to get in. some places are going the other direction. you mentioned the cities. instead of 120 credits, you just have to have a high school education. we're talking about life/death decisions and some cities are making a requirement that you be at least 22, 23. i think that makes a lot of sense. you have a 20-year-old kid making life-or-death decisions and you have chaos in your city for the next couple of years. so, you know, incentiving and mayors -- the country i feel like is changing now. i feel like mayors are really getting it. maybe before some people in washington are. and i think this issue is going to be huge, and i think this administration is understanding
that, listen to vanita gupta where they're going, it's changing. but i think this is the biggest challenge, who are going to be the police officers of the future? >> we didn't call on jane castor who raised her arm. jane, you don't count. first of all, you're in florida. and promising a photograph with the trophy of the bucs and tom brady doesn't count. you want to weigh in on this question, jane? >> sure. i'll very briefly -- i think a lot of it may not be the answer people want to hear. but it's the organizational reputation that -- if your organization is looked upon as being a great law enforcement agency, then people are going to want to work there and try to get in. the best recruiters you have are other officers, just like -- anybody who is a police officer can tell 100 stories of someone who walked in and said, hey,
have you thought about law enforcement. if you can see it, you can be it. and so we have youth academies where we cultivate through high school. we have scholarship academies for individuals to diversify that couldn't afford to go through the police academy. teaching at universities, going in lecturing. i did it several times to go and talk to the students. if they can see it, they can be it. and there are a lot of steps that can be taken. but i agree with everything both chuck and chuck said. you cannot lower your standards, period. we go through about 100 applicants for every two to four hires. difficult to be a police officer and it should always be difficult to be a police officer. >> thank you, jane. i think that's helpful. let me go to -- sorry about
that. let me go to mayor lucas and talk about the issue that's top of mind for many of us. a city like chicago in a decree, many of us are on the front lines, what are you seeing in terms of police reform and accountability as well as balancing that with criminal justice reform? >> mayor, the united states attorney's offices are our best friend. we had a problem with some violent crime. i went to the u.s. attorney's office in tampa and said i want you to partner with us and we got our local u.s. attorney to come to our meetings. their sweet spot is convicted felonies in possession of a firearm. there are a lot of things that drug dealers may be doing other things and we might not get them on that, but we work hard to get them on the possession. we put some of the most violent,
violent criminals away in federal prison for 10, 20, 30 years. they're off the streets and our violent crime hit that. so we're locking up the right people. you know, one of the things that we -- somebody touched on a while ago about drugs. we have an amnesty program here in ocala -- i'm the mayor of ocala, florida, by the way -- where someone can walk into the police department and say, look, i just can't live like this anymore. i'm an addict and here is my dope or whatever. we will take them to rehab. no cost. and so that's worked out real well. we had a gentleman that walked in one day, and i told this story to marty walsh when he was the mayor of boston and they started -- he said, look, i'm an addict. i'm not a thief. and i feel like i'm about to rob someone. i need some help. we took him and helped him out and told mayor walsh that and he said, i love that, i want to do
that. and so we're doing a lot of the right things. but we just have the atf come to us and said, look, we got about 25 border agents that aren't doing anything. if you want them, we can give them to you for three or four months while you hire more police officers to deal with that violent crime. and one of the things that we found -- and i'm sure all the mayors in here with their police department fine, taking people off of one unit to deal with something else and then that goes up and it's moving people around, once you deal with that, you got to stay on it and stay on it and stay on it. it ain't going away. it might go up, it might go down, but you just have to focus on it and deal with it each and every day. congratulations to the u.s. attorney down in ocala, and just wonderful, give them more money. >> i want to mention -- we're talking not just about responses
to criminal issues, but also responses to the reform conversation going on in our country. and so we certainly -- i want to hear more comments. but how are you balancing it right now? what ideas might you have as we're facing a number of situations where you have folks that want to have better constitutional policing, as chief ramsey notes, but also want to make sure that violent offenses are reduced in their communities. we welcome that discussion from you and we'll go to the end here. >> as a former prosecutor as well, and so -- as i listen to this conversation, i think about sir robert peel, the father of modern day policing. their called the bobbys. now the police are so poor, we call them the po-po. he said the police are the
public, the public are the police, with the police being the only members of society that are paid to do what is incumbent upon every citizen. and i think it's important to think about that. because we often put all of responsibility on our law enforcement and we need to get back to working together with our communities. we used to have things like the weed and seed initiative. we used to have the regional community policing institutes where we were training the police right together with our citizens. mayor lightfoot, you talked about building that long-term trust. to me, it's all about building the relationships, the partnerships, the friendships, the mentorships because if we're all talking together, and, you know, we're making difficult people into different people, where they're on our side, a lot more gets done and a lot less
violence happens. one of the things we've been working on is a camp working with all of our churches called camp agape. kids pay nothing. they go zip lining, surfing, they do something with the churches, they have a theme each day. the first day is trust. they come from homes where there's no trust. second day is love, because oftentimes there's no love in the house. third day is forgiveness, and the third day is hope and prayer. if you don't have hope, you don't have a prayer. we work with inmates, we've worked with people in the community and, you know, i'm not talking about hug a thug. although, there's been a lot of hugging there. but it's looking at those people and saying, you're valuable. it's investing in our kids because those kids are the same kids -- if you don't do
anything, over 50% of the kids of incarcerated parents are going to end up in the criminal justice system. and we keep on looking at, this is the police. we as mayors can bring -- as i said, everybody else to the table. but oftentimes we as mayors say -- and we as a community say, that's the police job. let's focus on the police. i think we've gotten away from a lot of those community policing initiatives and started thinking about, you know, how do we get more cops to do more enforcement? >> let me just do this for the sake of argument so it stays an interesting conversation. i don't know the nature of a police union or fraternal order in your community, but for many of us who have engaged in efforts to have these additional programs, they cost money. and sometimes there's a very
clear debate between do you want to invest in other program efforts, do you want to invest in more law enforcement officers, pure rank-and-file, and how have you looked to reconcile that, knowing in some ways there's a natural tension? >> the answer to that is, we're never going to arrest our way out of that. we worked together with the police and i think if you know -- officers have been community police officers, they'll often tell you, it's the most satisfying position that they've had in the department. and those officers -- luckily for places in hawaii, those officers have moved up all the way to the upper limits and they started working in some of those positions. so for our union, my -- head of my union for the whole state was one of my community police officers, and they get it. >> you're a lucky, lucky man.
>> investment in training. >> thank you so much. i know we have several i'm supposed to get in. i have a note that mayor keller wanted to chime in and then we'll have come back around. mayor keller. >> yeah, well, i just want to appreciate -- i wish the world was like you described. unfortunately, at least in albuquerque, new mexico. i think we've given up on that approach. what we're seeing is, we ask our officers to do too much. at some point, they just can't be everything. they can't be the behavioral health specialists, the mental health specialists, the homelessness specialists and we are under a consent decree, and rightfully so. we are trying -- we now have a third department that responds to 911. it's a full department. the community safety department. it's got about 40 social workers, it's starting out. there's about $10 million
reoccurring funds. so we just built a whole new way to address, you know, 20% of your 911 calls. but i think i do just want to ask a quick question to vanita gupta while she's here in the doj, because for those of us trying to balance that alternative response and a consent decree, the memo i thought that came out was so refreshing about how every city is different and i'm just kind of curious, what's the next step for either cities looking at it or dealing with this and also where the doj wants to take us with balancing reform and crime-fighting? >> you know, it's a -- i say -- i always say this very intentionally that every city is different, the demographics are different, the challenges are different. and it's a mistake for the justice department to view any particular jurisdiction or to view these problems as having cookie cutter solutions. you're referring to the monitor
memo that i put out back in -- you know, the goal of that really was to be able to provide some consistency, transparency, benchmarks, training for monitoring, federal judges, but the approach on violent crime that the attorney general announced last may, and this is to get to your other question, was very intentionally going to what chuck ramsey was saying, which is to not just have this be a return to the battle days, but to recognize inherently how important -- and it sounds like a platitude, but it's real, that police community trust is in the fight against violent crime and to have targeted solutions and to be able to have investments that are going to support community-based programs, behavioral health programs, but also that are supporting, you know, enforcement where that's needed in targeted ways and cities that have consent decrees, creating the space for
both supporting practices and getting constitutional policing going, but supporting programs that are going to take some of these problems -- we've put all of these problems at the feet of police officers and expect them to have answers. and you'll hear it from the fop and police chiefs and every one of us here and so what is it -- it isn't going to be a one size fits all. and it supports a broader array of interventions. we can talk to mayor scott about baltimore where the consent decree has helped to support a lot of behavioral health perhaps kind of out of recognition that we were just asking as we have been in cities around the country, just asking officers to take -- to do everything. and so there isn't an easy answer, but the goal for the
justice department is recognizing how intertwined the fight for public safety is here police community trust as well. >> thank you. we'll go to you, ma'am, and mayor scott. >> very, very quickly. culture eats policy for dinner, lunch. i don't know. sometimes you mix it up. and we had a culture problem. and that culture problem has been exacerbated by the rise in crime because you have those who do think that stop and frisk is the way to go and you throw a bunch of kids against the brick wall and we're going to end this problem and they've been emboldened. not just among the rank-and-file. the leadership in our police department is absolutely, you know -- chuck, they are saying exactly what you're saying, but i've got a sheriff who sends a very different message and who comes into the city and does law enforcement in the city and i have, you know, others who have, you know, this idea of how things worked.
and so, you know, i don't expect an answer in the time that we have. but for those of us who weren't in law enforcement, i'm a mayor that doesn't come from law enforcement, changing that culture and trying to build those relationships within a police department that is very fractured and where some voices are starting to win out over those who want to be on that path of where we were as a leading city. we were one of the top cities recognized by the obama administration for what we were doing. i'm putting it out there. that battle is happening right now. and i'm worried that we are at risk of losing it. >> can i just jump in on that? you got to stay the course. we're going through exactly the same thing in the city of chicago where we are reversing decades of a lot of bad culture.
a lot of things that protected the status quo of policing that was extraordinarily abusive to our residents and particularly residents of color. and we got a very strong police chief. he was asking me, how is david doing? he's doing just fine. but he's got a tiger by the tail because he's trying to move around and incentivize our officers and frankly our command staff to think about their job primarily as protecting our residents and not just doing things like -- that serves them but doesn't serve the people. so it is very difficult and very difficult -- i got the second largest police force in the country. he's forcing officers to do community -- positive community contacts, meaning, not just drive-by, but build relationships with the faith community and there are some who have embraced it and some who
absolutely hate it. and the sniping there is real. if you know you got the right plan, you got to be strong, you got to stay the course and you got to support your chief if you're aligned with them on what needs to happen to improve the quality of life and the legitimacy of the police. we have significantly improved our homicide clearance rate because people are trusting our police in a way that they haven't before. you can't get there without the community on your side, period, full stop. you got to make sure that every officer down to the beat recognizes that having the community with your partner is the most powerful tool. >> i couldn't agree more. and i'll just say this, for all of those who want to -- as chuck ramsey said earlier -- go back to the days of zero tolerance and go back to the early '90s, you know, i think that we
have -- for me and for us in baltimore, i always remind everyone, i'm the first mayor who had to live through it all. it's different when you had to duck the bullets and get set down just because you were breathing while black outside on the curb in the rain. the reality is, i didn't work the first time. why would we go back to doing it? we had 300 murders in my city when we had stop and frisk. we had it without. the only time we didn't have it is when we didn't do that. it's about having that balanced approach. yes, the reality is that for far too long, we looked at police in our country as a -- you don't like it, you pick up the phone, call 911 and the police come. and we're blessed our consent decree, chuck ramsey is one of your monitors, for us to be in a position now where we are really evolving as a city, where we're looking at public safety as a public health issue. where i'm saying that every agency is responsible for public safety and we are doing things like averting those calls away, health calls, as i -- the first
conversation i had with any human being about diverting 911 calls away from police to behavioral health was actually a police commander who said to me, brandon -- because him and i are friends. i'm the commander of the police district that has johns hopkins hospital in it. why in the hell am i sending police officers out to deal with this person who is having a behavioral health issue when the best medical people in the world are right down the street? we have to evolve. but as mayors, i think it's really going to help -- have to take us to have a lot of courage because people are going to demand that we go back to it and we have to stick to it because it's the right thing to do. yes, the reality is, it's going to cost some of us our jobs. people are going to get mad. but at the end of the day when the book is written about what we did in our time, this can be the time when we change the way that this country views public safety and do things in a different and more holistic way
because we can do things. it's not an either/or. my grandmother, rest her soul, never said she didn't want people to be arrested for murder. she said, she didn't want me to get knocked up the side of the head every time i went outside of the house. we can grow our community from 10 to 30, while at the same time alleviating things from our police department so that they have time to do that proactive work and they're doing it in a constitutional way. so like in chicago with mayor lightfoot, we're increasing our homicide clearance rate by 6% by one year to the next. that's how we can do all of this and we can do it, but it takes a lot of courage and a lot of tenacity to focus it all the way through. >> thank you, mayor scott. [ applause ] >> we appreciate that. we are almost out of time. so we'll bring it back to the panel. and i thank you greatly for that. i know brother wexler wishes to speak. we'll go to ms. gupta and mayor
lightfoot will close us out. chuck? >> thank you, mayor, for what you said. i guess i want a little reality check here and to use the opportunity to talk to mayors because the reality is that in america at this moment, most good cops are fearful of doing their job. now what do i mean by that? i mean that they are cautious, they are not going to be proactive in doing some of the things they've done in the past. there's more guns on the street in this country at this moment than in our history over the last two years. and at the very moment that we want to do something about violent crime, it means getting those good cops that have the confidence that only you could give them and honestly, i don't see that message enough in the
country from mayors or even from washington here. viral hits, condemnation, people saying that wouldn't happen here, you got to find ways to reach your good cops or you're going to continue to see, you know, good cops leaving, cops not joining. you really have to think hard about finding ways of capturing the imagination and knowing that if they go out there and they do their job and they go beyond their job and they make a mistake, that they won't be hung out to dry. that's a real tough message. i'm not saying anything more than you already know, but too often, it's about that video where someone screwed up and everybody is in line to condemn it. how many times do you find an opportunity where someone does something really good and that
is just par for the course. the country is changing right now. we haven't seen this kind of violent crime in 20 or 30 years and it's going to continue. cops right now are on the sidelines. you have to figure out how to get them back. >> thank you, chuck. before we close, i will note this. one thing that i might add -- and i agree with mayor scott, mayor lightfoot noted this. for some of our communities, tragically, it isn't actually worse. it's been consistent for my entire life and so i think as we -- and this conversation shows it. that balance of meeting that level of reform, that's something new, because something going back to what ms. gupta mentioned is trust. do our officers trust us? does our community trust our police department? is anybody trusting each other, prosecutor, police, mayor, et cetera? and so getting to that, i think, would be -- these will be my last comments.
ms. gup that and mayor lightfoot. >> i can't believe the hour is gone and i feel like we just scratched the surface. i hope i will be invited back. you all know, i'm a very accessible person. if you don't know how to reach me, mayor lightfoot knows how to reach me, the two chucks -- please be in touch. let me know how the justice department can support, if we're going something wrong, or you need something, let us know that too. but i am always grateful to be among you mayors. i know how hard your jobs are and my hope is that being at the justice department we can really increase our partnership, but these are the questions of the day and we've only scratched the surface. [ applause ] >> i'm going to pick up that challenge and say to laura and the conference, let's have this
conversation again real soon. if you have -- like most of us that are experiencing a surge in crime over the last two years, particularly violent crime, this is the issue. there's a lot of great things that are happening all over the country in american cities and we are leading on a number of different fronts. but this is the issue that defines us. and for me, it is the priority. i wake up every morning, i go to bed every night, and i spend almost every hour during the day worrying about public safety and thinking about more and better innovative ways in which we can bring really the whole of government. as chuck ramsey said, we've done some innovative things in chicago that time doesn't allow me to talk about. but this is the issue. and i think a lot of us frankly want the camaraderie and time with other mayors to talk about what we're facing, but i think there's also a lot of really innovative things. i heard from the mayor of mount
vernon, york today on an earlier panel, and i'm going to steal things that she's going at the local level. the scale may be different, but the challenges are exactly the same and i think one way we can move forward to help our individual one way we can move forward to help our individual cities is being united on this issue across the country and across mayors, so i insight the conference. let's get another session on the books as soon as we can because we really just scratched the surface. this is a multi-hour discussion and i think there's lots of layers that we can talk about. thank you all for joining us. really energized by this conversation. good luck, everyone out there. thank you. [indistinct conversat]
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of chicago institute of politics. >> tonight we mark the first anniversary of an almost unthinkable day in our history, a day in which a violent mob breached the u.s. capitol to stop the most fundamental process in our democracy, the formal certification in our votes that decide the president see. we remember with gratitude those that lost their lives and those defending the capitol and our democracy, but our purpose is more than commemorations, we want to better understand what led to that insurrection, and we want to understand the continuing threat of violent extremism and what we might do about it. to lead this discussion and take your questions, i am pleased and grateful to welcome an