Mapping A Resolution
January 17, 2015
After Forum Report
Jackson's Empowerment And Enrichment Complex
Jackson, Tennessee 38301
Submitted: January 22, 2015
By: Elmore Richmond Jr., President
Jackson's Empowerment And Enrichment Complex
Police and Community Relationship
Mapping a Resolution
The purpose of this report is to present a resolution to the City of Jackson, Tennessee, Madison County, The State of Tennessee, and the Nation to help improve police and community relationships throughout the country. The forum was held on Saturday, January 17, 2015 at Jackson’s Empowerment and Enrichment Complex (JEEC) in Jackson, Tennessee. One of the objectives of the forum was to meet with concerned citizens and officials to map a resolution to improve police and community relationships in Jackson, Tennessee and cities throughout the nation.
Elmore Richmond Jr., President of JEEC drew on his conciliation experience of more than forty (40) years and organized the forum. Richmond worked the field of Social Actions in the United States Air Force for more than 16 years, retired in 1989 and continued to work social actions concerns in Los Angeles and throughout the country to include police brutality. Richmond was familiar with the work of the U. S. Justice Department and the wealth of knowledge and wisdom that God had blessed his people with to bring forth resolutions to any problems that confront men. Prior to the forum, Richmond shared with Mr. Harrell Carter, President of Jackson's Branch of the NAACP the objective and the approach that he was going to take. Mr. Carter stressed the importance to include in the discussion the tasks that are required of law enforcement working in environments with social ills whereby the system has failed to give the much needed attention. Carter agreed to recruit a lawyer that was aware of the issues; Attorney Kenya Brooks of Memphis, Tennessee answered the call. Another important consideration was to have a panel member that was white, having the love for truth, the gift of wisdom and knowledge and the fear of God; Mr. Gary Taylor of Gary Taylor Investments and a member of Englewood Baptist Church answered the call.
The foundation of this resolution is the Declaration of Independence, work of the United States Justice Department, to include the Community Relations Service, The U. S. Department of Justice – Civil Rights Division, and a study titled: “Police Attitude Toward Abuse of Authority: Findings From a National Study (Author: David Weisburd and Rosann Greenspan with Edwin E. Hamilton, Hubert Williams, and Kellie A. Bryant Published: National Institute of Justice, Subject: Police discipline and misconduct, community policing.
Two of the publications of the Justice Department that were used for this mapping process:
- “Police Use of Excessive Force: A Conciliation Handbook for the Police and the Community” The guide book was first published in May, 1982; it was developed to give the police and community groups options for addressing any controversy surrounding the police use of excessive or deadly force. Community Relations Service updated the document in 1999 when the agency co-sponsored a meeting with the National Urban League and the League of United Latin American Citizens on police-minority community cooperation. According to CRS, there were representatives at the meeting from minority organizations, police executives, line officers, public officials, and civic leaders from across the country.
- Publication Title: “Addressing Police Misconduct: Laws Enforced By the United States Department of Justice” (U. S. Department of Justice – Civil Rights Division)
In addition to these works, we drew on the wisdom and knowledge of the panel of experts and the voices of concerned citizens. The panel members included:
- Gary Taylor of Gary Taylor Investments and a member of Englewood Baptist Church. God has blessed Mr. Taylor with the gift of wisdom and knowledge. He is a God fearing man and a successful white businessman. He had an opportunity to review the publication, “Police Use of Excessive Force: A Conciliation Handbook for the Police and the Community.” Like Richmond, Mr. Taylor, recommends that the leadership should read this work.
- Lt Rodney Anderson represented the Jackson Police Department
- Harrell Carter, President of Jackson's Chapter of the NAACP
- Attorney Kenya Brooks from Memphis
Richmond moderated the forum and set the course to reach the objective. Each panel member and the audience engaged in the resolution process. The moderator set the stage by reading a quote from the introduction of the Community Relations Service, U.S. Department of Justice publication title: “Police Use of Excessive Force: A Conciliation Handbook for the Police and the Community” the quote is as follows:
“The scenario is a now familiar one: a police officer, attempting an arrest, fatally shoots an African American, Hispanic American, or other minority person. Word spreads quickly through the deceased's community that the person was unarmed. Crowds gather and rock-throwing begins. There are injuries and arrests. The following day, minority leaders charge that the shooting was unjustified and demand the immediate arrest and indictment of the police officer involved. The police chief refuses to arrest the officer involved, the prosecutor does not indict the officer on grounds that there is insufficient evidence of any wrongdoing, and the next several days are marked by demonstrations, stepped-up police patrols, and further arrests. Finally, the reaction subsides, and the police and protectors settle into an uneasy truce.”
It was pointed out this was published in 1999 and updated in 2002, however it was noted that this cycle continues today. Today after the most recent incidents, we find another unacceptable factor the “assassination of police officers.” What's next! The framer of the community forum, challenged the panel and the audience to map a resolution in two hours to stop this destructive cycle that breeds racial divide, continued misconduct of police officers, mistrust in the justice system, fear of police, and killing of innocents without anyone being held accountable, which increases the reasons for the divide in the country. Although it may seem to be an impossible task to accomplish, we are proud to announce that we accomplished our objective.
How was that possible? For me the task was simple as moderator mapping a resolution for Jackson, Tennessee because I fear God and I have respect for the work of others. Moreover, God had the right people on the panel and in the audience, and they were willing to share in love. However, the gravity of police brutality and abuse of power were not clearly conveyed at the forum. We will discuss this factor in the discussion of this report. This report is built by respecting the works of others. Therefore, we must give credit to the U. S. Justice Department, Community Relations Service.
For it is recorded: The original handbook, “Police Use of Excessive Force: A Conciliation Handbook for the Police and the Community” was published in May 1982. In the Spring of 1999, Community Relations Service (CRS) brought four nationally recognized chiefs of police together with experienced CRS conciliators and staff to review the 1982 handbook. As a result, the guide was updated to include the developments in community policing and other police/community dynamics. In 1999, I read this work and I concluded that it was an outstanding document at that time; within the past month I read the updated work of June 2002. Surely, this is the work of professionals that were focused on bringing forth a resolution.
At the forum we were able to facilitate our way through the work by sharing experiences and discussing critical issues that confront the City of Jackson, Tennessee, the State of Tennessee and the nation. Most of the issues raised by the audience were a reflection of voices past and were already considered by the Community Relations Service. However, it became clear that the recommendations were sound and should be implemented throughout the country. The issue of community policing became a center piece of our discussion – the act of the public getting to know the police and the police getting to know the people in the community that they are “duty bound” to protect and serve. In Jackson, Tennessee it was noted how the Jackson Police Department was effective in certain areas of the city with the community police policies. Dr. Logan Hampton, President of Lane College shared his positive experiences with the Jackson Police Department. The Jackson Police Department provides the security for the college that is located in the inner-city. Dr. Hampton explained in addition to providing the security, they also act as teachers showing the positive interaction with the students. Dr. Hampton welcomes their services. Deacon Jones weighed in and explained how he shared a concern with Lt Anderson and how the police addressed the concern in one day.
Mayor Jerry Gist, the Mayor of Jackson welcomes training of the police officers. Lt Anderson, one of the panel members reiterated the Jackson Police policy of ensuring the officers were trained on certain critical issues. There was not a representative from the Sheriff’s department at the meeting to engage in this discussion. It was shared over and over that there must be a willingness to listen to one another.
Mr. Harrell Carter, President of the local branch of the NAACP, explained it was less about them (the police) it is more about us. From this vantage point, Mr. Carter sees police officers as being over-burdened because of problems and conditions that are impacting communities and are not being properly addressed. Carter explained, we must think about the conditions that we put our young people in; such as the lack of education, lack of skills, and the lack of safety. These conditions help create the quality of neighborhoods that make the police jobs difficult. Carter also explained that we must think about the laws that we pass. Selling of loose cigarettes – this should not be a death sentence! But when you get the police involved, this can happen. We must ask ourselves, when we create these laws is it worth dying for. Because when we put the police in charge to enforce them instead of addressing the conditions that cause a person to sell loose cigarettes, we give the police the power to take a life. Surely, we can select better officers, afford better training, however we must look at the system. The leadership says we must be tough on crime, Carter explained that we must be smarter on crime. The NAACP in Jackson, Tennessee is committed to working with the City and the County and they support body cameras, more training, and community involvement. Carter expressed that the decisions that we make will go a long way to resolve these problems and improve better relationship.
Attorney Brooks shared based on her experience of working criminal law for sixteen years, a public defender and a part-time prosecutor for nine years at the same time. She believes in order to move forward to improve police and community relationship, we must look within ourselves. We must get a better understanding and then work to building better relationships. We must work to improve the criminal justice system to become fairer when dealing with the community.
Mr. Robert Farmer from the audience raised the issue of the law enforcement workforce not mirroring the population it serves was one of the questions that was under discussion at the forum. It was noted that this is one of the problems in Ferguson, Missouri. It was also noted that the Jackson Police Department workforce does not mirror the population it serves. Richmond pointed out that this too is one of the recommendations of the U. S. Justice Department that agencies should work to ensure their workforce mirror the population it protects and serves. Richmond explained that a series of questions were prepared for both the Sheriff and the Chief of the Jackson Police Department and one of the questions included this issue; the guide was used to help develop most of the questions. Because of the short note and prior commitments, neither was able to attend the forum.
Ensuring that the rights of the people are not violated by law enforcement personnel as they carry out their duties was one of the concerns discussed. It was pointed out how illegal arrest happens and how the Supreme Court has ruled that an illegal arrest is assault and battery. “An Illegal arrest is an assault and battery. The person so attempted to be restrained of his liberty has the same right to use force in defending himself as he would in repelling any other assault and battery” (State v. Robinson, 145ME. 77, 72 ATL 260). Richmond pointed out that there are some rulings regarding illegal arrests that will shock most law enforcement officers. For instance: “Each person has the right to resist an unlawful arrest. In such a case the person attempting the arrest stands in the position of a wrongdoer and may be resisted by the use of force, as in self-defense.” (State v. Mobley, 240 N.C. 476, 83 S.E. 2D 100).
Mr. Carter pointed out that Tennessee has extended the law that gives citizens the right to carry a gun in their personal cars. (The Open Carry Firearms Freedom Act Senate Bill 2424) Carter expressed poses a unique problem for the law enforcement community. Richmond shared a ruling that he had read by the Supreme Court that would compound this concern. “Citizens may resist unlawful arrest to the point of taking an arresting office’s life if necessary.” Plummer v. State, 136 Ind. 306. This premise was upheld by the Supreme Court of the United States in the case: John Bad elk v. U.S., 177 U.S. 529.
It was strongly recommended that the law enforcement community should be apprised of these rulings, because it is the intent of the Supreme Court to protect the constitutional rights of the citizens of the United States. Lt Anderson explained that their officers have training annually to ensure that they are aware of the various rulings. However, it became clear that there are some rulings that all law enforcement officers must understand before they entertain making an illegal arrest.
Pastor Robert Richmond voiced some concerns about the District Attorneys’ and other prosecutors’ failure to indict officers and giving them a pass. He explains that today this is the crux of the problem. It was clearly pointed out that the Supreme Court works to ensure citizens’ rights are protected, but if the prosecutors fail to indict, the rulings of the Supreme Court have no effect on the officer’s misconduct.
This forum was truly special; Mr. Gary Taylor made some special observations regarding respect, cultural colonialism, and education. He explained that we must address these concerns. He was able to show how all these factors impact crime and how the cycle repeats itself. He further explains how it will require investment in the community. Here are a few other words of wisdom Mr. Taylor shared: (1) What you respect in life is what you attract! (2) We got to have role models in our communities. (3) We must learn how to invest back in our communities - form small groups – each one of us can do something. Mr. Taylor explained how Englewood Baptist Church a predominantly white church had adopted Andrew Jackson, a predominantly black school here in Jackson. The membership has mobilized teaching kids to read. Mr. Taylor expressed the importance of education. He explained 60% of black males graduate from high school that means 40% do not graduate. If you do not graduate from high school there is a 65% chance that you are going to jail. He stressed the importance of all of us being earnest with ourselves – we must take hold to what we are dealing with. The white community and the black community must become involved. These conditions cannot be mandated away, it is going to happen in Christ.
Ms. Gloria Jean Cole from the audience followed him and explained that we must have a love for people and look at our community as their house. In summary, she explained that like you address the concerns in your own house – we should address the concerns in our community. Mr. Larry Jones from the audience stated that we must adopt a family. Mr. Nick Lofton explained the importance of going back to the community after you are successful.
Attorney Brooks weighed in and gave insight about the words that we speak and the importance of educating law enforcement personnel as well as the teachers. She agrees that education is key – this goes for families in general; we must teach children at an early age and not limit them with words declaring limitation on what they cannot do in life. Teachers also must be taught about the effect of telling a child what they cannot do in life. Attorney Brooks explained that this also goes for police officers they too must understand they must not stereotype individuals because they live in certain communities.
City Councilman Johnny Dodd shared the importance of personal involvement in the lives of the young people. Councilman Dodd explained years ago after he was first elected he had a negative encounter with the police here in Jackson when he questioned the police why they were the arresting a youth. At the time he questioned the police integrity. Today however, he could share accounts of the positive outcomes of his involvement and how he receives the support of the police when working with youth.
There was no representation from the County at this forum. It was short note; invitations did not go out until ten days prior to the event. Although the Sheriff asked me to prepare a list of questions and the list was submitted per his request. Two days prior to the event, I received a call that he would not be able to attend and he would not send a representative. On the surface this sounds really bad – a lack of willingness to work together. However, you must consider some other factors prior to jumping to conclusions. Two days prior to the forum the Sheriff and I met for the first time and discussed these developments. Sheriff Mehr was just recently elected and he explained that he has not developed his team yet and he had a prior commitment and he did not have anyone else to send. An invitation was also given to the County Mayor Harris to attend; he expressed the desire to work with us in the future. I included this observation in this report because it is important to provide enough importance to prevent people from drawing the wrong conclusion. Communication is very important in developing community relationship. Elected officials must take time out to get to know the community but the community must take time out and get to know the officials that they elect.
Moreover, the Chief of Police, since his appointment has clearly demonstrated his resolve to work with the community. It must be noted, that Chief Wiser and Richmond earlier during the week discussed toy guns on the phone; Richmond suggested that more than the tip of the gun should be red on a toy gun; he expressed the barrel should be red or some other color. The Chief explained to Richmond that today’s problem is very troubling because guns today are manufactured in different colors like toys. The color of real guns looking like toys poses a real problem for the public and police. Here the passage of sound laws can arrest this problem.
Just prior to closing the forum, Mr. Brian Armstrong of the International Mason brought before the forum that he did not receive support from the Mayor of Jackson two years ago when he presented him a proposal regarding establishing a youth program. He and about fifteen others put together a detailed plan requiring the use of properties owned by the City of Jackson. Mr. Armstrong states the Mayor said he liked the proposal; however it would be better if it targeted an older age group to address the gang problem.
The Mayor was not present at the forum to address Mr. Armstrong’s concern; Councilman Dodd stated that he could not speak for the Mayor regarding that specific incident. However, Councilman Dodd said the Mayor supports youth programs around the city. Surely this is a true statement, in fact we have a youth program at Jackson’s Empowerment And Enrichment Complex and the Mayor has been encouraging us and supporting our resolve since day one. Now some of you may say this sounds like a personal concern; why is it included in this report.
Listen carefully! Mayors around the country have had similar experiences as this one. Individuals present proposals; their proposals are turned down and they walk away discouraged. Or they attend a meeting and walk away discouraged because they believe that they are not being heard or taken seriously. Mr. Armstrong and I talked after the meeting, I told him to give me a call so we could discuss his concern further. Mr. Armstrong contacted me and explained that he was aware of the gang problem in the city at the time; however he believed that he could have been most effective working with the youth because he knew the importance of reaching the youth at an early age. From his vantage point he explained: “There are children in the community that go to school with holes in their shirts, pants, and shoes, and their mothers give them a piece of gum because she cannot afford to buy tooth paste.” This is poverty! These conditions are real. Mr. Armstrong described a state of poverty that exist around the county – a condition that creates a breeding ground for crime – very fertile ground for gangs, violence – and deadly confrontations with the police.
Today the Mayor of Jackson has a number of initiatives to help address concerns within the community to include youth programs, praise in the parks, volunteers’ campaign connecting churches and community based organizations throughout the cities. Surely there is a need for more programs to address the youth and the gangs. The problem of gang violence has caused Jackson, Tennessee concerns over the past two years. The concerns of Mr. Armstrong will be passed on to the Mayor. This is an example as to why it is so important to ensure there is a continual flow of communication – forums of this type should be used as a means to keep communication flowing.
Often when there are discussions regarding the police and community relationship addressing the social ills of the community is not part of the conversation. However sometimes they are interrelated; there are times when more training is required. There are other times when there are bad law enforcement personnel that are allowed to operate and not put in check. The nature of the job of the police is a very dangerous one. Policing communities where there are many social ills to include high unemployment and a failure of the system to address the needs of the people increases the potential for violent outcomes of many encounters. The police and community relationship is in a state of crisis – we are not even at the state of an uneasy truce. Based on over forty years of conciliation, I realize that action must be taken now and I knew that we here in Jackson, Tennessee could help map a solution for the city and provide inputs to the nation. President Obama has appointed a task force to study police practices. The task force must present a draft report to the President by March 2, 2015, recommending methods to strengthen public trust while reducing crime. This report is being sent to the President for his consideration.
I submit to you today, the real impact of police misconduct, brutality, and the abuse of power cannot be seen from the advantage point of the residents of Jackson, Tennessee. It goes beyond what the residents of Jackson have witnessed. Before I concluded the writing of this report, I was lead to go to the internet and search "police abuse in the United States" After watching videos of the abuse by police officers across the country, I was very, very sad. I felt the pain, I felt the pain, and I felt the pain! I watched videos for about two hours. Next, I was lead to google "How citizens are fighting back against police abuse." I understand why some police are responding to some incidents the way they are with deadly force.” I was troubled in my spirit. I witnessed a very deadly crisis that we have allowed to happen in the nation. There are some citizens that have armed themselves with knowledge of their rights and some are actually physically fighting back to include the use of guns and deadly force.
In 1992 during the riot in Los Angeles, I warned the nation that this could happen if we failed to address the problems of police brutality and other social ills. Surely the practices of police must be studied. The task force may hold meetings and hear people talk about it however it is imperative to truly feel the pain. Therefore, in addition to the practices of police, the failure of prosecutors must be studied. It is clear that the U. S. Supreme Court is doing an outstanding job in making rulings to protect the rights of the citizens of the United States. The Community Relations Service has developed sound guidelines to help equip the law enforcement communities. However, there is a serious problem with the district attorneys’ and other prosecutors’ failure to indict officers and giving officers a pass. Consequently, this failure in some instances would impact the decision of the Chiefs and Sheriffs when they refuse to arrest the officer involved in serious misconduct. Moreover, it could even impact the attitudes of the officers that would do right, however he or she knows that they are given a pass so it does not really matter. This is not the end of this chain of dispositions. Why should an officer break the code of silence when he or she realizes nothing would be done to the officer because he or she has been given a pass. According to the study regarding police attitude toward abuse of authority, most officers respect authority and have no desire to abuse it. However, the tone has been set from the top when officers are given a pass.
Most Americans do not realize the gravity of this abuse of power and the killings of innocent Americans. Some Americans think the demonstrations were about the killing of Eric Garner and Michael Brown. However, it goes deeper than these cases. At the State of the Union Address, President Obama made the following comment, “We may have different takes on the events of Ferguson and New York. But surely we can understand a father who fears his son can’t walk home without being harassed,” the President said. “Surely we can understand the wife who won’t rest until the police officer she married walks through the front door at the end of his shift.” Review the message and observe the reactions of the people in attendance when President Obama mentioned the wife of a police officer looking for her husband to come home, compare it to the statement regarding a father who fears his son can’t walk home without being harassed, you will note there was a very different reaction from the audience. This is understandable, however if America knew about the hundreds of cases of unjustified killings by the law enforcement community and an awareness of police brutality their attitudes would be different. Most Americans value life and do not endorse the killings of innocent Americans and the abuse of power. It is a serious mistake to attempt to address police and community relationship without educating the public on the gravity of the problem.
For the law enforcement community, education and the respect for the law of the land should be key to ensuring that they have the right attitude to go forth and truly protect and serve. After reading some of the rulings of the Supreme Court regarding illegal arrest, I believe in the case of Mr. Eric Garner, the officers involved in his arrest and death would have handled the case completely different if they knew the rights of Mr. Eric Garner based on the Supreme Court’s rulings. And if they believed that the prosecutors would prosecute if Mr. Garner's rights were violated.
We the founders of Jackson’s Empowerment and Enrichment Complex, citizens of the United States of America, as residents of Jackson Madison County, Tennessee having the respect for the Declaration Of Independence, the Constitution of the United States, and the fear of God submit this resolution to the leadership of the nation to help improve the relationship between the public and the police. We realize that God has blessed men and women in this nation with his knowledge and wisdom to resolve all concerns that threaten the lives of mankind.
We believe in some of the cities the relationship of the police and communities across the United States is in a state of crisis. Therefore, we took action and organized a Community Forum here in Jackson, Tennessee that was held on Saturday, January 17, 2015. Therefore, the resolution is already written, it is deeply rooted in the Constitution of The United States, the Bill of Rights, the Declaration of Independence, the oaths taken by public officials, and the oaths taken by the law enforcement community.
This report highlights issues that must be addressed; some specific issues pertain to Jackson, Tennessee. However, in general they pertain to cities across the nation and the Federal Government. The Law Makers have passed laws, the Supreme Court has made rulings and some of these ruling are being ignored by some appointed and elected officials. Consequently, there is a lack of trust of the system. This lack of trust goes beyond the law enforcement communities; it is a lack of trust in the system.
The U. S. Justice Department has made sound recommendations to help the law enforcement agencies to effectively carry out their duties to protect and serve. One of those recommendations included community policing. In Jackson, Tennessee it was noted that it has begun to work for the Jackson Police Department. President Barack Obama has expressed the resolve to improve police and community relationship; therefore this report will be shared him.
There is no need to prepare a formal resolution, however there must be a revolution of thoughts. Therefore, every elected or appointed official, law enforcement officers, and citizens of America must understand the gravity of this problem of the lack of trust by some of the system that is designed to protect and serve. These views must not be ignored – for these concerns are real. We all have taken oaths, President Obama, Governors and Mayors, elected and appointed officials, law enforcement officers and every American must understand those oaths and respect them. In 1999 Attorney General Janet Reno said, “For police officers to be effective, their enforcement of the law must be framed in mutual confidence between the people served and the people who serve them. Every American must respect the law, but the law must respect every American.” This must ring true today!
This report identified some of the concerns that were shared at the forum and further research of police brutality across the nation. But allow me to share a few recommendations for the leadership of the nation.
- Police Use of Excessive Force: A Conciliation Handbook for the Police and the Community – the leadership of nation should read this document and adhere to the recommendations contained therein. (This document covers most of the recommendations to help create effective law enforcement agencies and to improve community and police relationships. However, the document must first be read and then take actions according to the recommendations as appropriate.
- Prosecutors should respect the rulings of the Supreme Court and prosecute when violations occur
- The Law Enforcement Agencies must be educated on the rights of citizens and their protection from illegal arrests etc.
- An Education campaign to increase the awareness of the public of the gravity of this problem and its true nature.
- Take action to address the root causes that create unsafe environments.
- Demonstrate true concern for the all the people throughout the United States.
- Community policing should become the norm.
- Work to ensure that the law enforcement agencies mirror the population they serve,
- Pass new laws to ensure that a real gun does not look like a toy and a toy does not look like a real gun.
- Ensure proper training of police officers.
- Respect the laws of the land.
- Execute your duties according to the oath that you have taken.
- Encourage activities to Improve Police and Community Relationship.
- Encourage and Promote better race relationships.
- Take note of what is truly being conveyed in this report.
- Let us all look within ourselves – take a hold of the real problem – respect cultural diversity – respect the law – share in love if you love God keep His commandments.
- Invest in your community as if you were taking care of your home.
I pray in the name of Jesus, that we as the people come together and understand the gravity of this deadly crisis and take appropriate action to address the roots causes. God has richly blessed America; we have everything we need to bring an end to this crisis, however the leadership must fear God and work in the best interest of the people.
Elmore Richmond Jr. President
Jackson Empowerment And Enrichment Complex
DVD Titled: Police And Community Relationship: Mapping A Resolution (Video of the Community Forum held at Jackson’s Empowerment And Enrichment Complex, 1/17/2015).