What is to be done?
From the Kerner Commission of the 1960s to the Christopher Commission, which looked into the 1992 Los Angeles Rebellion, to the Mollen Commission in New York, which found serious corruption in the New York Police Department, the problem of police accountability continues to fester in communities nationwide.
Even some of the most basic reforms such as the racial integration of big city police departments has failed to occur. For example, the New York police precinct at the center of the torture allegations involving a Haitian immigrant remains to this day 75 percent white, despite the fact that it serves a community composed overwhelmingly of people of color.
Today, Democracy Now! takes an extended look at the question of civilian control over law enforcement agencies and what communities nationwide are doing to combat the problem of police brutality and corruption. Guests:
• Chris Reeder, the director of the Citizens Complaint Office in Indianapolis, Indiana, and the president of the National Association for Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement.
• Sam Walker, a professor of criminal justice at the University of Nebraska in Omaha. He has been studying policing — and civilian complaints against the police — for some 20 years. And he is the author of eight books, including The Police in America and Sense and Nonsense About Crime.
• Will Gonzalez, Executive Director of the Police Barrio Relations Project in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, a civil rights organization that seeks to improve community-police relations by addressing police misconduct.