The tragic death of George Floyd is but the latest manifestation of the painfully unfinished work of narrowing the racial divisions that plague our society. As far back as 1997, the Baker Institute sought answers when African American leaders and police chiefs from across the United States met to determine how to improve strained relations between law enforcement and the African American community. The summit participants — led by Lee P. Brown, then a senior scholar at the Baker Institute and former police chief of Houston and New York, as well as drug czar during the Clinton administration who later served as Houston’s mayor — made the following recommendations:
These recommendations are as valid today as they were in 1997. Some have been implemented, others have not. But 23 years after their publication, highly publicized incidents of police abuse continue to spur widespread protests and, in less volatile times, lingering distrust between minority communities and the police. It is high time to move beyond speeches and protests to concrete and practicable steps and solutions.
Read the 1997 policy report “Police and the African American Community: Building Bridges to the Future.”