Nov. 5, 2018 - Law enforcement professionals and civil rights experts recently came together for a series of discussions on policing at community relations at the University of Houston Law Center. The event was co-hosted by the Anti-Defamation League.
"We thank the Law Center and Dean Baynes for hosting the program," said Marvin Nathan '66, the national chair of the Anti-Defamation League. "Despite the challenges and difficulties of criminal justice reform, we have no choice but to move ahead. Learning more about law enforcement policies, community and law enforcement expectations and relations is an excellent way to begin."
The opening speaker was Law Center Dean Leonard M. Baynes who discussed media stereotypes and how reporting can vary depending on the ethnicity or race of an individual accused of a crime.
"Most crime in the United States is intra-racial crime," Baynes said. "It's usually black on black crime or white on white crime. But the media often focus on sensational crimes that are inter-racial, as studies have shown black on black or white on white crime does not receive the same attention.
Baynes also touched on how accused criminals are treated differently depending on their race or ethnicity in stop and frisk policies, drug use and arrest, and incarceration rates, practices that fracture communities.
The second panel featured a dialogue on how the community construes police policies and whether those policies are being understood by law enforcement, through both the law enforcement and the community's lenses and how to develop or re-develop community relations and police transparency. Speakers included Lauren-Elaine Brown, an engagement specialist with the American Civil Liberties Union, Houston METRO Police Chief Vera Bumpers and Assistant Chief of the Houston Police Department, Sheryl Victorian.
The luncheon speaker was Daniel Friedman, vice president of law enforcement and community security for the Anti-Defamation League, whose talk was titled "Do We Trust What We See."
The final panel was a conversation on consent decrees, federal monitoring of law enforcement agencies and the Federal Court's role in this process. It further discussed what is working and what has been the most difficult to reform. The panelists provided a blueprint of best practices fo policing constitutionally. Speakers included Arif Alikhan, director of Constitutional Policing and Policy at the Los Angeles Police Department, Judge Susie Morgan or the Eastern District of Louisiana and Michelle Wirzberger, chief of consent decree implementation for the Baltimore Police Department.