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City introduces newly hired consultants from 21st Century Policing Solutions

The team of consultants will be working with the Policy Review Taskforce the City is forming following recommendations from the Traffic Stop Study completed this year.

/Russell Olmsted

“We know the truth may hurt, but selective ignorance is fatal.”

This a phrase Ronald Davis admits he’s fond of saying. And during the City’s press conference this past Thursday, August 17, 2017, to introduce Mr. Davis and the rest of the newly hired consulting team from 21st Century Policing Solutions, it became clear this saying is more of a guiding principle for their work.

The team of consultants will be working with the Policy Review Taskforce the City is forming following recommendations from the Traffic Stop Study finished earlier this year.

According to Ronald Davis, Principle Consultant from 21st CP Solutions, the role of his firm will be to “Provide support to the taskforce” by presenting information and science based evidence regarding best policing practices. Mr. Davis reaffirmed that the consultants are only here to provide that information and an objective viewpoint in facilitating the discussion.

“The taskforce needs to make the decisions.” Mr. Davis said. Adding that they believe this system will allow for better informed independent decisions regarding the taskforces review of policy and practices.

Working on a one-year $181,000 contract, the consulting team consists of five members:

Ronald Davis: Appointed by President Barack Obama in 2014 to lead the President's Task Force on 21st Century Policing. In 2013 was appointed by Attorney General Eric Holder as the Director of the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS Office) of the United States Department of Justice (DOJ).  And has combined 28 years’ experience in law enforcement. Serving eight years as Chief of East Palo Alto Police Department and 20 years with the Oakland Police department.

Sean M. Smoot: Also appointed to the President's Task Force on 21st Century Policing in 2014. He has served on the Advisory Committee for the National Law Enforcement Officers’ Rights Center in Washington, D.C. since 1996. He is a member of the Advisory Committee at the Chicago-Kent College of Law’s Annual Illinois Public Sector Labor Relations Law Program. He also serves on the Use of Force Advisory Committee, the Police Pursuit Advisory Committee, the Racial Profiling Advisory Committee, and the Task Force on Police Integrity for the Illinois Law Enforcement Training and Standards Board. And is currently the Director and chief counsel of the Police Benevolent and Protective Association of Illinois and the Police Benevolent Labor Committee.

Charles H. Ramsey: Appointed as Co-Chair of the President's Task Force on 21st Century Policing in 2015. With 45 years of law enforcement experience he has served as chief of police for both the Philadelphia and Washington D.C. police departments, and was deputy superintendent of the Chicago Police Department. Working with the Anti-Defamation League and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, he led the creation of Law Enforcement & Society: Lessons from the Holocaust. Mr. Ramsey was also President of the Police Executive Research Forum, the Major Cities Chiefs Association, and served on the International Association of Chiefs of Police Executive Committee

Roberto Villasenor: Appointed by President Obama to the President’s National Task Force on 21st Century Policing in 2014, and in 2015 was appointed by Arizona Governor Doug Ducey to the Arizona Criminal Justice Council. Was with the Tucson Police Department for 35 years including 7 years as chief of police. He has also served on numerous councils and boards including The Arizona Association of Chiefs of Police (President), the Police Executive Research Forum Executive Board, the FBI CJIS/UCR Working Group, and currently sits on the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Ethics and Integrity Advisory Panel. In 2015 The Tucson Branch of the NAACP presented him an award for “Pursuing Liberty in the Face of Injustice”, and the Tucson Hispanic Chamber named him as the 2015 Arizona Public Servant of the Year.

James Copple (SAI LLC): has served as the Founding President of Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA), Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of the National Crime Prevention Council in Washington, D.C., President of the International Institute for Alcohol Awareness, and Senior Policy Analyst for the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation.

While the full Policy Review Taskforce the consultants will work with is still being formed, the City has decided on its makeup. It will consist of two citizens from each of the City’s three wards, the Police Chief, seven Police staff from every rank, the City Attorney and Deputy Attorney, and two representatives from the Police Unions.

Even though unions and police will have representation on the taskforce they’ve stated publicly that they felt blindsided by the City’s decision and have been vocal in expressing their displeasure. “The steady stream of studies, criticism and direct policy and procedure investigations has had a deleterious affect on police officers and command staff.” The unions said in a statement released in late July.

Speaking on Thursday, Ronald Davis from 21st CP Solutions took time to address the unions concerns.

“We are not here to study, or to investigate, any individual cases or to study the Grand Rapids police department.” Mr. Davis said. “I just want to be clear with that. We are not here to do an investigation of the police department.” He also added later that concerns voiced by the union are valid noting that officers around the country feel under siege right now. But he quickly pointed out “That is part of 21st century policing. That is expected in a democracy that you question those that have such power.”  

While the consultants cautioned that the work ahead will take substantial effort and wouldn’t commit to a hard timeline for its conclusion, they very are encouraged by the steps the City and GRPD have already undertaken.

“All of this is voluntary. And for someone who’s just spent three years at the Justice Department, that’s not as common as we’d like it to be.” Mr. Davis said. He also noted that the attitude he’s seen from the city staff, commissioners, chief, and officers they’ve met with shows promise as they all are determined to fix the issues. He sees that as a unique when compared to other cities or departments they’ve worked with.

Next up for the consultants will be to meet with the community. City Attorney Anita Hitchcock said that 125 community leaders will be meeting with the team from 21st CP Solutions. The full list of leaders wasn’t available however the City Attorney said it would include organizations like LINC Up, The Urban League, The NAACP, Church Leaders, Neighborhood Associations and many others. Ronald Davis made clear that this would only be the first round of such meetings and that they will continually be reaching out for community input throughout the process.

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