tv Criminal Justice and Policing Practices CSPAN December 13, 2014 3:53pm-5:15pm EST
police have been video taped using excessive force. none of us can ever forget rodney king. it is not the first time people died in police custody and it is not the first time that a grand jury has vetoed justice. why are people walking around with their hands up saying i can't breathe? why are people saying don't shoot? why are they proclaiming these things all over cities in america? it is because of a long train of abuses, not one particular case. people who want to argue over the nuance of one recent case in the news or another are free to do so, but no one can deny the unmistakable pattern between police and community, particularly black community and men in that community. we can talk about eric garner and michael brown, but what about tamara rice, 12 years old? what about darren hunt who had a
toy? what about rodney king? by the way, not only is this a long train of abuses. it goes back further than commission report which said our nation is moving toward two society, one block, one white, separate and unequal. 50 years ago, we were dealing with this same issue, and it is on us today and we must make a call to action to reverse this trend so that every american, all-americans, can feel that the government really is liberty and justice for all. so instead of a system of justice that works for some, it doesn't work for all, this injustice takes place within a social and economic context and i have to say that when officer wilson confronted michael brown on canfield drive in ferguson, the interaction did not take place in a vacuum. ferguson, missouri's unemployment rate is 13%, over
double the national average. the number of poor people in ferguson doubled over the last 10 years. in 2012, almost all of ferguson's neighborhoods had a poverty rate of over 20%. the fact is if we respond by ordering body cams, ordering police cameras, this will be good steps. if we have grand jury reform. if we require that there are preliminary hearings in these officer-involved shootings so we can have more transparency. these are all good things but they will not stop the parent -- the pattern unless we deal with the structural, economic abandonment of cities like ferguson. we cannot continue to solve our economic and social problems with criminal justice solutions. the fact that our low income and minority communities are over policed and underprotected is a spark.
but poverty and economic deprivation is the kindling and that is what lights the flame. i say yes to body cams and all types of reforms, but please let us not forget that investing in infrastructure, education, public job programs and providing for social supports which help people stay away from the hardest aspects of an unfair economy are essential. you do not sell loosies on the streets of staten island if you are making a livable wage. we know we have an inequality problem when the c.e.o. of walmart makes over $8 million and the c.e.o. of mcdonald's makes $9200 an hour and a cashier makes $8.25. please do not forget that dealing with the economic deprivation that kindles these
situations is incredibly important. it is important in the recent cases. it will be important in the future. i would now like to turn my attention just for a moment to talk about the problems that affect the muslim community in particular. societal discrimination is real. i have been a direct victim of it myself in my own state only a few days ago, a county party chairman called muslims parasites and said they should be fragged. that means to kill them violently. a state senator in oklahoma said american muslims are a cancer that needs cutting out. when we arrive at how the state deals with this muslim population, we know we are already dealing with a situation in which so many in the law enforcement community see the muslim community as a security problem, not fully fledged
members of our community here to make a contribution. i too was disappointed in the guidance recently issued by the department of justice and believe that at no time can we have a system of justice in which someone's race or religion or what they are wearing can justify engagement by law enforcement. law enforcement should engage citizens when there is some suspicion that person might commit a specific crime. that should be the basis of the engagement. until we say that racial profiling, religious profiling is actually bad law enforcement, we will continue to bother people and engage people who had nothing to do with any wrongdoing and we will miss people who were up to no good and will harm us. thank you, all the committee members and my fellow panelists for this excellent presentation. thank you. >> thank you.
congressman gutierrez, great to see you again. senator booker, thanks. we appreciate it as your colleagues. i dismiss with gratitude our first panel and thank them for adding to this. i want to knowledge in the audience, martin castro, chair of the u.s. commission on civil rights. good to see you, marty. now i would like to call the second witness panel to come to as they're coming to the table i'll give you an introduction. one-time friend wade henderson, president and chief executive officer of the leadership council on civil and human rights, leadership conference the nation's prominent -- prima civil rights coalition with more than 200 organizations in its membership. mr. henderson, professor at the university of district of columbia david clark school of law. prior he was the washington bureau director of the naacp,
graduate of harvard university and rutgers university school of law. thank you for being here today. dr. cedric alexander currently serves as president of noble the national organization of black law enforcement executives on whose behalf he is appearing. he is the deputy chief operating officer in charge of the office of public safety for dekalb county, georgia. dr. alexander previously served as transportation security administration, federal security director for dallas/ft. worth international airport, deputy commissioner of the office of public safety of the new york state division of criminal justice, and chief of plooy esin rochester, new york, law enforcement officer for 15 years in florida, a doctoral degree in clinical psychology from wright state university. dr. alexander, thank you. our next witness is a familiar friend laura murphy director of the washington legislative office of the american civil liberties union, a position she's held on several occasions. she is the first woman, first african-american, longest serving head of the federal affairs operation in aclu's
94-year history. she received her bachelors from wellesley college. it is the custom of this committee to swear in our witnesses if you would all please rise. do you confirm the testimony you are about to give is the truth the whole truth nothing but the truth so help you god. thank you. wade henderson, first witness. >> thank you, mr. chairman. chairman durbin, ranking member cruz, and members of the subcommittee. i'm wade henderson, president and ceo of the leadership conference on civil and human rights, the coalition of more than 200 national organizations representing persons of color, women, children, organized labor, persons with disabilities, seniors, lesbian, gay, bisexual and friends gender community, and the
faith-based community. let me start by thanking you, chairman durbin for your remarkable leadership from passing bipartisan legislation like the matthew shepperd and rights, ct to voting stand your ground laws, apple civil rights of american muslims, you have been a champion on issues of vital importance to the civil and human rights community for years. let me also acknowledge you, rafrpbling member cruz, in your role as the new chair of the subcommittee for the 114th congress. senator, we are hopeful that as the new chair you will build on the subcommittee's legacy and continue to work in a bipartisan fashion to make progress for our nation. we look forward to collaborating with you to achieve our common goal of protecting and advancing civil and human rights for all americans. this hearing is taking place at a pivotal time for the nation. the recent killings of unarmed
black boys and men by police officers across the country have fueled a growing, diverse, passionate, and increasingly organized movement for justice across racial lines that cannot be ignored. in particular, the recent nonindictments of the police officers who killed michael brown in ferguson, missouri, and eric garner in staten island, new york, and the new information about the suitability of officer timothy lohman who killed 12-year-old tameer rice in cleveland, ohio, remind us though we live in a country founded on principles of equality and opportunity, african-americans and other communities of color still find that the promise of equality and opportunity has yet to be fully realized. and nearly every indicator that we use in the united states to measure progress, people of color are falling further behind and in some important ways doing worse than they were in 1960.
our schools have resegregated. levels of unemployment are an all-time high. we face continued discrimination in voting, and our incarceration rates have increased exponentially. as we mark a number of anniversaries this year and next including the civil rights act, freedom summer, the voting rights act and sunday we must acknowledge and celebrate how far we've come. we must also be aware of just how far we have to go in the quest for equality. systemic obstacles to full inclusion and opportunity remain for our communities and we failed to establish the justice and equality that we all seek. without question our criminal justice system is in crisis. racial discrimination and bias persist at every stage from policing to trial to sentencing and finally to reentry. we should use our resources to more adequately address public
safety and invest in alternatives to incarceration where appropriate. we must put in place common sense reforms that prohibit discriminatory profiling, demille tarize local law enforcement, redefine standards for use of force by police, and establish accountability. we must eliminate harsh sentencing policies that disproportionately impact communities of color and pass the bipartisan act as well as assist with successful reentry. finally, we need vigorous enforcement of hate crime protections and expanded, coordinated police community to rts to track and respond hate violence and improve hate crime data collection. more than a decade after president bush announced that racial profiling is, and i quote, wrong and we will end it in america, unquote, communities across the country, particularly african-americans,
latinos, asian americans, arab and muslim americans, and those perceived to be arab and muslim including south asians, middle easterners, and sikhs, are still subjected to profiling and a variety of contexts including street level enforcement, immigration enforcement, and counterterrorism efforts. profiling is an ineffective law enforcement practice. it is detrimental to public safety and is against the constitutional right to equal protection under law. now, yesterday the department of justice issued long-awaited revisions to its 2003 profiling guidance for federal law enforcement. this represents an important step forward by expanding protected categories and limiting some of the existing loopholes. where it falls short in the areas of national security, border integrity, and the failure to apply state and local enforcement, we will work with this administration to end
profiling by all law enforcement. further, the shortfalls and guidance we enforce the need for congress to act and we will redouble our efforts to ensure passage of the end racial profiling act in the 114th congress. i'd like to turn next to voting rights. while the days of poll taxes, literacy tests, and brutal physical intimidation are behind us, voting discrimination is still a problem for many americans. last month's mid-term elections were the first to be held without the protection of section 5 of the voting rights act because of the supreme court's 2013 shelby county vs. holder decision. and we saw increased efforts to implement new restrictions on voting, including mandatory voter identification laws, limits on early voting, last-minute changes of polling places, changes to methods of elections, and racially biased gerrymandering that disproportionately impacts
communities of color. as a result, we witnessed the most unfair, confusing, and discriminatory election andscape in almost 50 years. it is a disgrace to our citizens and our standing as a beacon of democracy. the 114th congress must fix the shelby decision to ensure no voter faces discrimination. these are big challenges, mr. chairman. the leadership conference's goal is to create an america as good as its ideas and it's not just rhetoric >> this is the critical and necessary work in which all americans of good conscience should be engaged particularly our elected officials who are charged with addressing problems of national importance. we look forward to working with you and the subcommittee on these important issues. thank you, sir. >> dr. alexander?
>> thank you, sir. good afternoon, chairman durbin, ranking member cruz, and members of the subcommittee. i bring greetings on behalf of the executive board and members of the national organization of black law enforcement executives, commonly referred to as noble. my name is dr. cedric alexander national president of noble and deputy chief operating for public safety dekalb county, georgia. it is an honor to be here today to participate as a witness in the senate's hearing on the state of civil and human rights in the united states. i won't take knowledge -- i want to acknowledge and thank you, chairman durbin, for holding this hearing and inviting me to participate. i speak a view from a per spectrometry ev of a person who has over 37 years of law enforcement experience and has held a number of high level positions in federal, county, and city, local levels. in addition i hold a ph.d in clinical psychology and, quite frankly, senator, some days i don't know whether that's an asset or a liability.
i represent an organization, noble, whose mission is to ensure equity in administration of justice and the provision of public service to all community and serve as the conscience of law enforcement by being committed to justice by action. it is my position that this country has the unique opportunity today to address the lack of trust and understanding of law enforcement by communities of color. it is imperative to every citizen that we collectively deploy solutions to areas of training, community policing, and technology, to ensure that as america, america is secure both domestically and internationally. secondly, through these solutions we're able to further the hopes and dreams of many of our forefathers in realizing true civil rights and human rights as stated in the declaration of independence. we hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal, that they are
endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. the recent events in ferguson, missouri and staten island, new york, when combined with real and/or perceived attacks on civil rights legislation have created an environment where many people of color feel disenfranchised by their national and local government. more importantly, there is a pervasive belief, right or wrong, that the lives of minorities are less valuable than of their counterparts. let's talk about solutions to building bridges of understanding and partnership between law enforcement and communities they are to serve and protect. training, sir, being at the forefront of all of this. it's a critical component to bridging the gap among law enforcement in communities of color. it is the foundation for people of different cultures app
socioeconomic backgrounds to interact effectively. when developed and implemented as a framework it enables systems, agencies, and groups of professionals to function effectively to understand the needs of culturally diverse groups. it is critical that law enforcement re-evaluates its training methodology to ensure they reflect 21st century needs and incorporate the training for police officers that is part of the recruiting and in-service training. militarizeation of police has become a growing concern and interest throughout our country in recent years through the use of tactical equipment and gear to combat every day crime. the 1033 program was created by the national defense authorization act in 1997 as part of the u.s. government's defense logistics agency disposition services to transfer excess military
equipment to local law enforcement agencies. every year hundreds of millions of dollars worth of military equipment flows from the federal government to state and local police departments. as a result, departments have implemented the use of military equipment as seen most recently in ferguson, missouri. to many americans, it was unfairly targeted toward other american citizens. there must be justification of accountability and training to support the continued use of such tactical measures and equipment. noble feels that training is a key component of ensuring the correct application of this type of resource. community oriented policing which we all have heard a lot about over the years, it is our recommendation that the law enforcement community adopt community policing as a philosophy of policing in this country. here are some of the key components. community policing allows officers to demonstrate their support for the community.
residents and officers are allies. officers respect and protect the civil rights of residents, racial profiling, and other forms of discrimination are strictly prohibited. community policing demand officers interact with people who live and work in officers that day patrol. officers are trained to communicate with people, solve community problems, and develop an appreciation of cultural and ethnic differences. the other side of that, sir, is very important as well, too, that communities work closely with police, align themselves with local police, and become partners. this is not a one way street. this is a two way street when we talk about public safety. it takes everyone, police and community together, in order to provide the type of public safety i think that we all want to embrace in our respective communities. community policing emphasizes the importance and value of human life, the use of excessive force is absolutely
rohibited and deathly force is reserved strictly for when an officer's life or the life of a citizen is at risk. noble has launched a pilot program entitled the law in your community. through funding from the department of justice cops ffice this program aim is to develop trust and understanding between law enforcement and the community. the law in your community is an interactive training program for young people between the ages of 13 and 18 years of age. it is designed to improve their communication with law enforcement officers and their understanding of federal state and local laws. components of the program include but not limited to citizenship. what does it mean to be a citizen? what are the laws governing every day life including traffic laws? and what are your rights as a citizen? basic laws, understanding the basic laws of issues such as gun ownership, staying safe within your community, maintaining positive affiliations with others,
including peer relationships, maintaining good grades, adult relationships, and the benefits of having mentors. law enforcement engagement, educating young people and adults on how to engage and navigate communication with local law enforcement officers. what is community policing and have a better understanding of the realities of working in law enforcement and with those who do that job. lastly, we feel technology can be leveraged to support implementation of community policing app ensure maximum transparency to the public. through technology, partnerships with communities can be strengthened in the area of problem solving and partnership initiatives. likewise, there is an important role in applying technology and improving the effectiveness of law enforcement training. listed are some of those technology recommendations. requirements of body cameras for every law enforcement officer in this country, every
law enforcement officer in this country. deployment of various social media platforms to allow law enforcement departments to better communicate and interact with local residents. and, of course, use of force and firearm training systems, help them to develop and sharpen their skills of shoot and don't shoot. by implementing these recommendations on training, community policing, and technology, we believe that real progress can be made in improving the relationship between law enforcement and communities they serve. this would greatly improve the state of civil rights and human rights in america. i thank the subcommittee for the opportunity to testify and would be happy to answer any questions that you may have. thank you. alexander.u, dr. >> thank you, senator durbin, and ranking member cruz, for inviting the aclu to testify at today's hearing. for nearly a hundred years, the aclu has worked to defend and
preserve the rights that the constitution and the laws of the united states guarantee. i would especially like to thank you, senator durbin, for your tireless leadership as chairman. you have held hearings on a variety of critical issues from solitary confinement to racial profiling and addressing barriers to voting, and for hat we are so very thankful. my written testimony provides an extensive and broader view of the state of civil and human rights, but today i will focus my remarks on three areas of unfinished business. one, the militarization of police, two, sentencing reform, and, three, criminal disenfranchisement in voting. we are standing at a crossroads
in america right now. one must only look to the current crises in ferguson, new york city, and in cleveland to see that extreme problems in policing continue. with recent police paramilitary tactics splashed across our tv screens, we must ask ourselves, do we want an america where the exercise of first amendment ghts is met by assault weapons and tear gas, where armored vehicles are used in our day-to-day policing, where policing resembles our military operations in iraq and afghanistan, where communities of color are disproportionately under siege. if the answer to these questions is no, congress must
act immediately. militarized policing goes far beyond fergs. swat teams were originally created to deal with life-or-death emergencies like hostage crises, they are now overwhelmingly used to serve search warrants in drug investigations. a recent aclu report found that swat teams were used 79% of the time for raiding a person's home. most often for drugs. such tactics are unnecessary and excessive. what message are we sending by using weapons of war to police american communities? congress must ensure accountability. federal funding and providing military equipment should be conditioned on data collection, use of body worn cameras,
antiracial profiling training, and insistence on community policing as my good friend has pointed out. the war on drugs has created an incarceration nation with too many people in prison for too long serving no useful benefit to society. one of the major reasons for expanded jail and prison populations over the past 30 years is the use of stiff, mandatory minimum sentencing for nonviolent offenses. prison costs now absorb nearly one-third of d.o.j.'s discretionary budget -- 30%. the costs, though, go far beyond simply the money it 2.3 to incarcerate over million people. the true costs are human lives, mainly of generations of young,
black and latino men and women who serve long prison sentences and are lost to their families and communities. organizations across the political spectrum support truly bipartisan sentencing reform such as the smarter sentencing act, and we thank you for that. that act would address the ongoing crisis in our federal prisons by reducing the prison population. it is sponsored by senators durbin, lee, leahy, cruz, and representative bobby scott and reuel labrador. the bill also has considerable conservative support. the time is now to pass the smarter sentencing act. it's only a first step in reducing over incarceration. there is another tragic outcome
incarceration binge. almost 6 million of our citizens have lost the right to past criminal a conviction in many instances for very low level crimes. upon release from prison, these citizens work. they pay taxes, they live in our communities, and they raise families. but millions cannot vote. one out of every 13 african-americans of voting age has lost the right to vote. that is four times the national average. but millions have no input on our political process. that is unacceptable. we commend senators ben carden and rand paul for their leadership in this area and we urge the passage of the democracy restoration act, a bill that would restore voting
rights in federal elections to illions of citizens. ending discrimination should be and historically has been a bipartisan issue. just consider the multiple voting rights act extensions that we've had. consider the laudatory fair sentencing act of 2010. these would not have happened without bipartisan support. only with bipartisan support can we make much needed changes to our criminal justice policies. i'm sorry, senator cruz had to to because we would like work with him as well on changing our criminal justice policy. we look forward to working with him as the new chair and all members of the subcommittee and the 114th congress on these critical issues. i want to thank you so much for this opportunity to testify.
before i end, i would ask special consideration before the hearing record is closed, i would like to ask if the aclu may submit a document outlining some of the gender-related problems in our criminal justice system. >> without objection. >> thank you. >> thank you, ms. murphy. mr. henderson? there was a time when witnesses came before this subcommittee and told us about what had happened when we had the 100-1 disparity between crack and powder cocaine. over a span of 20 years or more, there was a massive incarceration of african-americans, unjustly, unfairly, for undue, long periods of time. but there was another reaction. the african-american community understood it. as a consequence, when many of these same people were called to serve on juries to try people for drug crimes, they remembered. it became increasingly
difficult for prosecutors in some areas to win a prosecution before a jury that was integrated. they told us that story, and it was understandable. let me take that to what i think we currently face, at least in some communities that i'm aware of. we have seen a decline in violent crime in the city of chicago, but, still, too many violent crimes. the majority, the overwhelming majority, are black-on-black crimes. when you visit the communities that are the most dangerous, where the children are in the most danger going back and forth to school, even playing, sitting on a porch, you find a reaction from people in the community that they don't reach out to the police. they don't cooperate with the police. they fear the drug gangs and those who own the guns but they fear reaching out to the police is going to be just as dangerous or unproductive. two areas of nullification, but one that has a direct negative
impact on people living there, tell me how you react to that. >> well, mr. chairman, it is a terrific question, and i think you have correctly pointed out some of the challenges that law enforcement and the communities hat they are paid to protect often encounter in their relationship with one another. the relationship between law enforcement and the african-american community as senator booker helped lay out in his presentation has a long story based on fundamental injustices that our country has yet to fully overcome. and you correctly point out that obviously communities experiencing crime, regardless of the makeup and color of that community, needs the protection that law enforcement provides. on the other hand, when law enforcement is complied inconsistently, unfairly, without equal protection, and often without respect for the
lives of the individuals that law enforcement is charged to protect, you develop a level of ambivalence, indeed, a level of fear that may affect how you respond to the legitimate needs of law enforcement in the engagement with the communities they serve. now, let me say at the outset, this is not a generalized indictment of law enforcement. we know many police officers. we've worked with police officers. many police officers are fully committed to protecting their charges regardless of the race of the communities they prosecute. having said that, there are identifiable problems, some of which have surfaced in the last several weeks in the cases we have cited, which clearly point out the need for further training and responsibility to ensure that these individuals are protected. one of the concerns we expressed with the guidance
issued by the department of justice is that it didn't go far enough to require state and local police officers not engaged in direct, federal law enforcement activity, which is covered by the guidance, but law enforcement that relies on the federal support, federal dollars, federal equipment, that these departments should be required to attest under title 6 of the civil rights act of 1964, which prohibits racial and ethnic and national origin discrimination. these departments should attest to the fact that they have training programs designed to ensure that racial profiling or profiling of the kind we've discussed that should be prohibited does not take effect, that problems of unconscious bias, which often affect police departments, can be overcome with training, that attestations of the fact that these departments have taken affirmative steps are needed. now, to get back to your specific question about the communities that in turn are experiencing crime and are
fearful about reporting those crimes to the police representing another form of nullification, i guess i would say, senator, the truth is most crime occurs in this country in communities in which inhabitants reside. so, yes, there is blackon black crime just as there is white-on-white crime. the communities and the makeup of the community often determines that. but having said that, there is a legitimate concern on the part of many communities that reporting crime, as much as they would like to have the protection of the police officers, often invites a level of systemic abuse, which they have seen in the implementation of our criminal laws and the unfairness of it all. when we talk about incarcerating individuals for years at a time, for nonviolent, drug-related criminal activity and, yet, we turn to look at legal use of the same product in states like colorado, that have individuals
incarcerated for long periods of time whether it's in illinois or minnesota or other locations, there is obviously some sense of unfairness and injustice. we need to try to reconcile that. and then one last point. your effort on the fair sentencing, we talked about it here, but the truth is, had you not shown the kind of leadership that you demonstrated, your willingness to reach out to senator sessions, your willingness to cut a deal, and we talked with you at that time, we obviously were pleased that the 100-1 disparity was being changed. we had hoped the disparity would have been eliminated entirely, that there would have been a one-to-one ratio of incarceration based on crack or powder cocaine. nonetheless, the change that the two of you helped usher in and was approved to the senate has led to a substantial reduction in prison time for individuals who would have been adversely affected, on average about three years.
involved in rs the incarceration of these individuals and the impact that returning to their communities at an earlier point in time has had on overall nature of the community is beyond price and compare. you should be very proud of what you've been able to accomplish. >> thank you very much. senator franken? >> thank you, mr. chairman. boy, there is so much here. his is a moment, i think, in this country that, you know, our first witnesses and all of you talked about how ferguson, staten island, cleveland are not anomalies but this is -- here is a focus now. this is a moment that i think we really need to at least, at
the very least, try to grapple with this, try to focus on it, and try to legislate. i heard from a friend who i adn't heard from in 20 years after this -- after senator booker spoke, and you heard how powerfully he spoke today -- he spoke in our -- at our caucus lunch, and that same evening i got an e-mail from a friend i hadn't seen in 20 years who said, you have to do something about this. i have conversations with my 15-year-old son that are very uncomfortable, just like senator booker talked about, what it's like for a young, male that ican is no margin for error in dealing with law enforcement. i want to ask, dr. alexander,
you talked about community policing, and i think -- and it sounds to me that i think what you were saying, mr. henderson,on, i believe, was there is not federal crime involved, there is still federal funding involved. >> right. >> and can we require some kind of protocol in community policing? let me ask you something. this is the difference between ferguson and staten island, i think, is that ferguson the police department really did not represent the community in its makeup. and i think in new york it does more. can -- and this is for anyone on the panel, but maybe dr. alexander first. what does that say about training versus or in league with having the police
department represent the community? >> well, it's important, senator, as we all know diversity is a very important concept. i think we all tend to pay very close attention to it. and one in this nation that i would hope whether it's government or private industry we all make some attempt to rectify, particularly when we see agencies as such that may be lacking in that area. diversity is hugely important. there are many departments across this country who are doing it very well every day. and there are some communities in this country that struggle, senator, with the whole concept of diversity. some of it may be deliberate or they don't take it that serious and then in some cases, you will have communities such as ferguson where i had the opportunity to spend some time with the chief there on a number of occasions and we talked about diversification in his department and we'll use ferguson as an example.
that's a community where the demographics in that city change from white to black over bout a 20-year span. i mean, change hugely. in that transition the police department, itself, did not transition to look more like that community. now, in all fairness to chief jackson, he made attempts as he stated to me to diversify that department, one of the biggest challenges he had is in as much as he wanted to make that department more representative of that community, he struggled with the fact that the same population that he was trying to recruit every other police department in his area was trying to recruit as well. for example, st. louis p.d., st. louis county police department, a lot of these officers of color tend to go to larger agencies which pay more money and have more opportunity for advancement.
then you also had himself and others competing for that same population as well, even in private industry. but one thing i concluded and i made very clear to him and i talked to a number of my colleagues across this country, regardless of what that challenge may be to you, we can no longer accept the fact we can't find any. that is no longer acceptable. what it means, senator, is that departments that struggle with recruitment of people of color, they're going to have to work harder. they're going to have to put money in their budgets, go outside their communities to recruit, and they may even have to develop within their communities, within their local public schools, pipelines where children and young people can become police explorers. and if you begin to groom those young people very early on in their educational process, maybe at some point they become a pipeline into your police
agency. it is a challenge in some parts of the country, where i come from in dekalb county, georgia, metro atlanta, don't have a problem recruiting people of color. i don't have that issue. but here again, it depends where you are. one thing i will not accept is the fact i can't find people of color. it just means we have to become more creative and we have to become more determined and we have to look around as well, too, and see how other departments or other industries are recruiting, because we may not have to recreate that wheel. but accepting the fact we cannot find people of color is not acceptable because a community deserves to look like the government that serves it. whatever that government is that serves that community there should be similarities there, too. i can say this. there are a number of police departments across this country who really make dedicated
efforts, really work hard to diversify their agency not only at the lower ranks but all the way up to the top. and we have to applaud those. but their -- there are agencies out there, too, that struggle. some struggle because they don't have any control over that, and others struggle maybe because they don't see the benefit in it. we have to hold those agencies, whoever they are out there, we have to hold them accountable. >> i would ask that the senators and members of congress be creative in attaching conditions to federal funds to local police departments. we have the hyde amendment from many years ago which is still in force which said no federal funds shall be used for abortion. why are federal funds being used for racial profiling? that's, in fact, what is happening now. we believe the president has the authority under title 6 of
the civil rights act to require local police departments receiving federal funds not to discriminate. and there's a debate in the justice department and so many people in the justice department say, oh, we can't -- we can't have any jurisdiction over local police. but millions of dollars flow into over 85% of local police departments, and i think this should be an amendment strategy or a conversation with the president, but it is important for congress to act, because what's going on in communities of color is just so horrible when it comes to community and police relations. something has to be done. i just want to say that attorney general eric holder, i think, gets this.
and his staff is working on grants and that flows a lot of money into police departments. they say that congress has a great deal of authority over those programs. so i would ask members of this committee to look at the cops program, look at the jag grant, and see what restrictions can be enacted so that federal funds are not used in a discriminatory fashion. >> senator franken, can i just add one point to your last question, which -- >> i'm sorry. >> sure. >> apologize. thank you. you touched on the nonindictment of eric garner in new york and you talked about the police department being more representative of the community. indeed, it is. but yesterday attorney general eric snyderman of new york issued a request to governor cuomo, which we supported, by
the way, asking that in instances where police shootings involving civilians occurred that a special prosecutor be appointed to conduct the inquiry and to handle the indictment process. we believe that that's necessary. police departments have an inherent conflict of interest in -- with local prosecutors. that is not to say they have teamed up to avoid the indictment of police officers. it is to say that the special relationship that prosecutors enjoy with police, after all, they depend upon police to provide information and often testimony -- >> sure >> -- in cases that they handle, you can't handle a police shooting of a civilian in an impartial way without bringing in a prosecutor from the outside. so when we look at these situations in staten island, ferguson, the outcome was virtually foretolede in
ferguson at the moment the prosecutor elected not to recuse himself over the requests of local individuals and his record suggested that this outcome was predictable. it's not that way in every circumstance. but certainly it is a enough of a concern that the approach attorney general sneiderman took is one we would recommend broadly. >> thank you all. >> thanks, senator franken. senator blumenthal? >> thank you, mr. chairman. and thank you for convening this hearing. thank you to each of you for being here and for your extraordinary work over many, many years. want to just go from the last remark that you made, mr. henderson, because i think that the lack of an indictment in the garner case had certainly shocked and appalled countless people and led to the kind of suggestions that state attorney general sneiderman made.
i'm not sure the federal government would have authority a special state prosecutor to prosecute a local policeman but i think the suggestion is certainly one that attracted a lot of support , and understandably and rightly so. i am a cosponsor of the smart sentencing act which was introduced by our chairman and senator lee and i know as a former prosecutor how important discretion is and how restricting discretion most specifically in senting can impede justice and fairness and also be against the interests f society. i have also called for stronger oversight of the use of military equipment. right now as you know there is no, in effect, collection of
data as to what is dispensed by the department of justice, what it is used for, essentially no accountability by either the department of defense or the department of justice. i think one or the other has to impose some accountability. i want to say in preface to the question i'm going to ask that i have great respect for police and prosecutors around the country. i have worked in law enforcement for the better part of 40 years beginning in 1977 as the u.s. attorney in connecticut and then as state attorney general. i think that there has been tremendous progress in the quality of our policing community at state, local, and federal levels, and the quality of training, quality of people. and practices and even diversity over these years, which in no way minimizes the progress that we still have to make. i respect the jobs they have to do, day in and day out facing extraordinary dangers and
life-and-death decisions that have to be made sometimes instantaneously. but i do think that we all benefit by better information. and right now, i think, a lot of folks have come to realize at there is essentially no information about the deaths that occur while individuals are in custody for -- or under arrest. i've introduced legislation in the senate called the death and custody reporting act, a companion bill to representative bobby scott's bill, which passed the house by a voice vote -- a voice vote -- and passed this committee earlier this year. it's a pretty simple piece of legislation. it requires states to report how many individuals die each year while they're in custody or during the course of an arrest. the stark, staggering fact is, we don't know. and i'm going to ask that two
recent articles be entered in the record. is from the "the washington post" of september 8 and it's entitled, "how many police sheetings a year? no one knows." the second is from "the wall street journal" of december 3rd and is entitled "hundreds of police killings are uncounted in federal stats." "the washington post" article essentially says that we know that there are a lot of police shootings but they're all self-reported. there is no requirement that they be reported. and, again, that is in no way to indicate disrespect or for the decisions made in those individual instances by 17,000 law enforcement agencies, but the fact is only 750 of them report shootings. we know the number of police who are shot. we know a variety of statistics about what is happening on
farms, in cities, but we don't know the number of people, including justifiable homicide, that they're called, that happen on our streets and in our police departments. -- by the way, mr. chairman, i'd like these in the record if there is no objection -- i hope that you will indicate your support for this legislation. i think it would be meaningful to have your opinion. and i would ask you simply whether you feel this kind of legislation would make sense. >> do you mind if i start, sir? >> mr. alexander, i'm happy to have you start and then i would ask, mr. chairman, that each of the other witnesses be given an opportunity to respond as well. >> yes, sir. i'm in total support of that. i think it's -- you know, part of -- part of what we're experiencing across this country right now is a failure by many americans, not just african-americans, but americans across this country
feel a total disconnect from their criminal justice system. in light of the michael brown ooting, eric garner case, it has become more pronounced. i think people that are not african-american, people that do not have that experience being african-american or color in this country are beginning to see clearly that something is wrong in our criminal justice system not just police but our entire criminal justice system. it's across the board, 360 degrees. in regards to what you're speaking to, sir, i find it unfortunate, embarrassing as a law enforcement official, that there is not federal legislation that requires that cities, states, travel communities, villages, all across this great nation, are not reporting those types of
shootings and deaths to a federal authority because they need to be reported. they need to be investigated. they need to be studied scientifically and develop some evidence based material that might be helpful in identifying right now we hich are anecdotally looking at. i certainly support that as the president of noble and i would hope the rest of this country would support it, too. as a sophisticated country as we are, and the leaders of the world, we have a responsibility we have tion where the people now protesting in the streets from berkeley to maine, and from south florida to detroit, all across this nation, and around the world,
we need to take more accountability. we need to begin to close some of those gaps and expose ourselves and become much more transparent to the american people in terms of the criminal justice system and how we do business because that is the biggest piece that angers people in ferguson, in staten island, and the rest of this nation. there is absolutely no sense of transparency. there is a loss of trust and commitment not just from police but from the entire criminal justice community. we're a better nation than that and we have to move toward some real reform, sir. >> very well said. thank you. ms. murphy? >> yes. we support the death-and-custody act and we hope the senate can take it up before the end of the lame duck session. you know, data collection is key. we were making momentum after the rodney king shooting in
congress. the the aclu helped write traffic stops statistics act because we had documented in a report that we called "driving while black" how many times black motorists were pulled over by state and federal police. there was no data there. but then the problem expanded to stop and frisk and street interactions and we didn't have data there. so we worked on the end racial profiling act, which would require data collection as a key element, and we think without the data, it's hard to because we form need to know where the problem is, how long it's been going on, who is doing, you know, which departments are having the most difficult encounters,
and the fact that this information is not collected by the federal government is just a travesty. so data collection is crucial to any kind of criminal justice reform especially getting to the issue of racial profiling. >> senator, my colleagues have elaborated quite clearly on the value of the death and custody act, the leadership conference is a big supporter of the bill. and like ms. murphy, we are hopeful the senate will act on this initiative before it adjourns. that gives us just a few days. , it's such a basic fundamental piece of legislation and it is essential and that is all the bill would do. for that reason we hope it can get the kind of bipartisan support here it was able to obtain in the house and we hope the bill becomes law. >> thank you. thank you all.
>> thank you for convening the hearing today and i thank the panel for your compelling testimony and your answers to the many questions posed here like my colleagues and certainly those -- the leadership of senator durbin has been outstanding on this -- i am a cosponsor and supporter of the smarter sentencing act he and senator leave advanced and of the death-and-custody bill just discussed by senator blumenthal. rather than repeating a lot of topics already covered let me simply ask for your input on two different questions that are related. i, too, find it shocking we don't have reliable statistics. i like many of my colleagues work closely with and respect law enforcement and the difficult and dangerous job they do, but for us to simply have no meaningful data on deaths in law enforcement incidents to me is deeply puzzling, frustrating, concerning, and something we need to step forward and take
some responsibility for. why do so many departments refuse to collect reliable statistics and why can't we get stronger bipartisan action on that. second, we have undeniabley unequal impact on communities of color in this country from our criminal justice system. just in my home state of delaware which is roughly 22% african-american, 42% of arrests, 64% of the prison population, 86% of those arrested for drug use. there is an undeniabley disparate impact on communities of color and there are several different ways we could also have broken that out. the costs both of the lifetime costs, moral costs, fiscal costs on african-american men in particular as my colleague senator booker i think detailed earlier is overwhelming.
i choose to be encouraged there are bipartisan bills i hope this congress will take up now and in the next congress, but what can we do to reduce and eliminate the unfair toll our criminal justice system takes on minority communities? i'd be grateful if the panel would answer those two questions in the time we have remaining. >> i'll start and be very brief. first i want to reiterate a point that both i and laura murphy have made about using title six of the civil rights act to condition the receipt of federal funds o know a commitment of nondiscrimination and providing the affirmative training necessary to ensure that that commitment can be carried out. many of us believe that the department that receive federal funds over 85% of the police departments today do not begin with an affirmative decision to discriminate against their citizens. these are police departments
with offices that are committed for ir treatment i think all. having said that, there are certain systemic factors that this ed -- entered into that are almost unacceptable. stereotypes, misperceptions about activity, the assumption one community is more dependent on drug use than another when in fact statistics would suggest almost equanimity in the way drugs are used. all those are factors. so data collection is important. training is important. encouraging affirmative behavior by using a statute that is over 50 years old in our view makes common sense. we hope that can be encouraged. i would make one other point. the sentencing act is an incredibly valuable tool, and it is often framed in moral terms as a way of addressing
this disparity that exists in sentencing and indeed it is a moral issue. there is another very practical factor that makes this such an important initiative. the department of justice will tell you that the bureau of prisons, which it administers, is currently eating up about 40% of the department's budget with that number growing annually because of the mass incarceration that our government supports. the growth of the federal budget, department of justice budget and being consumed by the bureau of prisons means other discretionary programs that are so important to the communities in which our federal offices are deployed can't be administered effectively with that rate of growth in the bureau of prisons and we hope those statistics will help encourage members to look at this. lastly, the president has initiated as you know a program
called "my brother's keeper." it has spawned a private initiative called the boys and men of color initiative. when it was initially proposed, there were some who seemed skeptical about the value of the program. however, looking at the events of recent weeks and months with the killing of young boys and men by police officers, and the attendant economic circumstances that feed into that problem, one would hope the president's initiative would get a second look at a measure of support. that goes beyond the enforcement of existing federal aws in using the good officers of the president and members of congress to encourage private engagement in these activities as well. >> thank you, mr. henderson. dr. alexander? >> yes, senator. think it becomes important to note unfortunately sometimes cities and states are not going to take responsibility to collect data and it becomes for me i think at that point a
federal issue where legislation so we can imposed direct communities to impart with all of us publicly and privately any information particularly around in-custody deaths. i would even go beyond that and say severe threats. i think that gives an opportunity for all of us to look at those agencies. , it may not be without ill intent, it may be because of or training or lack of internal policies. i have foundhat over the years, and i have been in this business a very long time now, is that many of our police officers out there who are doing this job across the country are doing a great job.
greatest majority of them. sometimes along the way, being that policing is not an exact science, sometimes they get it wrong. not intentionally, that sometimes they do. but the difference is life and death. when death is experienced, people start asking questions across the country and in those communities, and often times, there are no answers. that is one of the biggest problems that are hence -- that is happening today. there is no transparency whatsoever. when truth is not seen or experienced or felt by people emotionally, what we and up with is what we are experiencing today. because the questions that you are reallysenator age-old questions. questions we have talked about and dust around before, but we have never drawn any conclusion. we are at a place now in our
nation's history that we are going to have to get an answer to these questions. we are going to have to explore, mr. chairman. we are going to have to look at ways in which we can change and look at this criminal justice system and a very different kind of way. race,mes it is based on sometimes it is based on gender, sometimes it is based on what your economic class maybe, sometimes all of the above, we have got to change this. a -- what wenot are expensing every night in this country now is no longer thing, if youable will. it is not just a reaction. we are seeing what is evolving into a movement. it is like we saw the civil rights movement in the 60's. it is evolving into a movement. because all people across this nation are involved. if you look at berkeley, california and you look at the m
a graphics of that community, thousands of people who are marching out there every night, and some will say that that group is made up of anarchists. and it may be. that i can pretty much a sure o, the people are marching across this country every night who are saying that we want to see something different. wholet to see our criminal justice system explored and possibly revamped. that is a heavy lift. we understand that. to engender in this country is a sense of hope. that someone is looking at this. the someone is paying attention. the someone is listening. the american people, in my estimation, are not just going to accept this as being another incident. because they have been too been --, and they have
i should say, if you look at the overall incidence in each one of these cases, what you will constantly find is a young african-american confronting police officers who are often times very different from them in race and an economic status. there is a disconnect in this country, not just in policing, that there is a disconnect across the whole criminal justice system. even the grand jury process needs to be explored. because when you have communities in this nation who are no longer trusting law enforcement, when you have people in this nation who tell their children that they should be afraid of the police, and they are afraid for their children to go outside because they may be harmed i will -- harmed by the police, that is a bad place in this country. we need to acknowledge it.
we need to do something about it. but i am perfectly honest about it, i am tired of people talking to me about it. we truly have to figure out some strategies, some new strategies. maybe do some things in this country that we have never tried before. the we have to take some risks to do something very different. they are not accepting it any longer. and i'm not going to give it to them any longer. my wholey community, idea is to crates of strategy. some change. so that community and police and the criminal justice system will work well together. a safer community. a safer america. this is not the separated states of america. this is the united states of america. -- the part of all whole part of our whole criminal justice system is to serve everyone. it may not become available in my lifetime, but we have to put
ourselves on that trajectory. i willing to do whatever it takes to get there, and i think we all are. but this is something that has to be addressed today, sir. thank you for the question. >> thank you dr. alexander. ms. murphy? >> it is always interesting to be the only woman at a hearing. we represent 50% of the population, but we have to be feisty in order to be heard. appreciate my male colleagues, but i think there are a number of questions that i would like to address, and if i am not able to address them in the oral part of the hearing, i would like to be able to submit answers to you for the record. but i think your specific question about why we can't get to today's collection goes back to the fraternal order of police. they oppose the traffic stops statistics act, they opposed the
end racial profiling act, and oft we need is a convening police unions and civil rights initiationybe at the coons, and you, kunz senator durbin. we are not out to punish the police. we are out to end discrimination. have think that the police to be brought into these discussions, and the unions have to be brought into the discussions, because they are many memberso are of congress rely on for
political endorsements. and so they have a greater power in some cases than many of our organizations that do not have political action committees. and i still think that there is this lingering fear that many elected officials have of looking soft on crime. theso we have not policed police as vigorously as we could or should. what i think now is the moment. we've got to use this moment. if it does not happen now, it is not going to happen. >> will thank you, miss murphy, and thank you, mr. chairman, by indulging a full answer by the committee. it is, to summarize, my hope as well that a. of when a lack of answers, a lack of transparency, a lack of accountability, has led to many protests.
there is a disconnection between our communities and those charged with the important duty of keeping us safe, but doing so within our constitutional order. it is my real hope that we will take action and that actually to change and that change will be to hope. it is clear that without the sort of action you have led, in leading this bipartisan bill, we won't make progress. thank you. >> thank you, senator kunz -- coons. >> miss murphy, when i saw that personnel carrier in ferguson, missouri, i thought, what is going on here? that policeow department had those unless there was a terrorist situation. several questions crossed my mind. what are they doing with what
appeared to be at the moment a much different kind of street demonstration? secondly, what are we doing as a federal government hadley this kind of hardware? the productis just of some kind of swaggering, chest thumping, chief of police that wants to have the newest and the biggest, thomas looking vehicles? -- toughest-looking vehicles? don't we live in a country were we are fighting for the right of individual citizens to own military assault rifles? sking thesewe a police safe where these citizens might live? it seems to me that there is an conversation taking place here. i don't want to see these objects in every police department by any means, that police are facing weaponry that
we are blessing here at some level. this goes way beyond the threat historicallyave faced. i want to be sensitive to that. how do you respond? >> i want to be sensitive to that too. but if you look at the usage of vehicles, these helicopters, these bazookas, these m 15, they are used for routine law enforcement. >> which makes no sense. >> yes, it makes absolutely no sense. armeds were used for robberies or hostage situations, then it makes more sense. and it is so racially bias, the way this equipment is being used. a hostage crisis in the white community, you will see the armored vehicles. the when there is a routine protest or a drug arrest in the black community, you will see
these vehicles and more. plus, we are rewarding people like sheriff arpaio who has a that he of weaponry claims he needs in order to enforce our immigration laws. let's let the police organization respond. chairman.ou, i certainly do appreciate what my collie, miss murphy, is saying. i certainly do understand her perception. say this as a 37 your veteran in pulley scene, where i spent all my career. to orlando,florida to new york, and now to the cap county, georgia. program, i think one of the failures of the program, is quite frankly this. you just cannot give out this
equipment to anyone who wants it. york, it didnew not want to the police department. >> ferguson, missouri. >> it did not belong to the police department. now, some of that equipment, maybe all of it, to have been 1033red through the program, but the way in which it was utilized in ferguson, quite frankly, in short, was wrong. wrong, and many chiefs across the country has spoken out across the fact in the how it was used was wrong. now, the other piece, the other side of this, to your point, mr. chairman, is the fact that post-9/11, this country is still are position where we keeping ourselves safe. police departments across this country are certainly being confronted with small arms and large arms that are at the
pleasure of a lot of criminals that are out there. we find situations, and certainly i have seen situations , in my county into cap -- in de equipment getis the exaggerated, because none of us have rocket launchers or bazookas. but to the common layperson, it all looks the same. i get it. it is the optics of it. of it is, there are going to be times where police are going to have to respond to active shooters we think about situations across this country where we have mall shootings, movie shootings, school shootings, and we need to find that target and do what needs to be done to save lives of others. the only way that we are going to do that is that we are going to have to use that a