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When Police Shoot: A Dialogue on the Use of Force

Panel discussion provides a thoughtful beginning to important conversations on law enforcement and the communities they serve

December 4, 2014

Washington, DC—Last night, the National Law Enforcement Museum and The Memorial Foundation, builder of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, hosted the Museum’s inaugural Conversations on Law Enforcement panel discussion entitled: When Police Shoot: A Dialogue on the Use of Force in the US Navy Memorial’s Burke Theater. The event provided an opportunity for a national discussion on police training and procedure, and the use of force.

Chairman & CEO of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, Craig Floyd, kicked off the event by welcoming the nearly 150 guests in attendance. He thanked the event sponsor, Target®, and co-host, President & CEO of the Memorial Foundation Harry Johnson, who leads the organization that built the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial. Mr. Johnson briefly spoke about the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in Washington DC, and encouraged the panelists, audience and general public to bring forth the four tenets of the Memorial: justice, hope, love and democracy.

Panelists for this event included DeKalb County (GA) Deputy Chief Operating Officer and the President of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE) Cedric L. Alexander, PhD; former Cincinnati (OH) Chief of Police Thomas Streicher, Jr.; and Reverend Tom Watson, Senior Pastor of the Watson Memorial Teaching Ministries in New Orleans, LA. The event was moderated by Jeff Johnson,  a BET television host and former National Director of the Youth and College Division of the NAACP.

Mr. Johnson led an in-depth discussion on the use of force by police officers and the concept of community policing. Dr. Alexander and Chief Streicher drew from their decades of police experience to help the audience understand the complex decision-making process required for officers to do their job.

The panelists agreed that police officers need to deal with biases by addressing them through training and getting to know the communities they serve. “The philosophy of community policing,” noted Dr. Alexander, “needs to become a part of police culture, but it is a dual responsibility,” the community also needs to engage with their local agency. 

Reverend Watson shared anecdotes about his experiences with law enforcement, and his perspective on what police officers can do to foster a greater sense of trust between themselves and their communities. He made the point that “If connection is going to happen between communities, it must be from the bottom up. It can’t be from the top down”. To achieve this, he encouraged the development of a dialogue between the community and law enforcement, ensuring that everyone’s voice is heard.

The Museum’s Conversations on Law Enforcement program—generously funded by Target®—is an extension of the Museum’s popular Witness to History program. These new events will focus on contemporary issues that affect law enforcement officers and the communities they serve.

For more information, visit http://www.lawenforcementmuseum.org/PanelDiscussions

Visit the Museum's blog for a recap and photos from When Police Shoot: A Dialogue on the Use of Force.

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About the National Law Enforcement Museum
A project of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, the 57,000-square-foot National Law Enforcement Museum will be located adjacent to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, DC’s Judiciary Square. The Museum will tell the story of American law enforcement through high-tech interactive exhibits, comprehensive collection of artifacts, extensive resources for research, and diverse educational programming. The Memorial Fund’s mission is to tell the story of American law enforcement and make it safer for those who serve. For more information, visit www.LawEnforcementMuseum.org.

Steve Groeninger
(202) 737-7135 | steve@nleomf.org