Announced Friday, 53 police departments around the country have signed on so far to the White House-pressed Police Data Initiative, a plan by President Obama to make crime-fighting more technology-driven and accountable to higher-ups, but that is seen by critics as a not-so-subtle federal takeover of community policing.
The program, which comes by way of a recommendation from the Task Force on 21st Century Policing that Obama launched in December – which was created by the White House in response to widely reported instances of police-community clashes and alleged cop discrimination against minorities – is aimed at enhancing “data transparency and analysis” among police departments around the nation.
In White House jargon, according to a May 2015 “Launching the Police Data Initiative” press release: “Through the initiative, key stakeholders are establishing a community of practice that will allow for knowledge sharing, community-sourced problem solving and the establishment of documented best practices that can serve as examples for police departments nationwide.”
The ultimate goal?
“Increased trust and impact,” the White House reported.
The initiative in 2015 kicked off in Camden, New Jersey, a “predominantly black city” that’s “one of America’s most violent and also among its poorest,” NewsOne reported. Then, 20 other communities joined on to the program as well, which included training from federal authorities on how to gather and use data to “increase transparency, build community trust and support innovation,” the White House reported.
But it’s grown. Now, the number of participating police departments has jumped to 53.
And critics say it’s little more than a federalization of local police because it puts the White House at the helm of deciding such matters as cameras on cop uniforms and whether or not local jurisdictions accept equipment from the military.
Critics also say the data that’s being gathered at the local levels will lead to a massive federal database, overseen by federal authorities, who will then decide whether the individual police department is pursuing crime-fighting techniques in a manner that doesn’t discriminate against minorities.
As the New American put it back in March of 2015: “The plan … will use U.S. taxpayer dollars to deploy ‘experts’ and ‘researchers’ charged with training officers to act in a manner that the [Department of Justice] deems just – in essence doing the bidding of the Obama administration. Officially, the Justice Department will be helping local officials ‘fight crime’ under the scheme.”
And as the Blaze reported in August of 2015: “President Barack Obama’s administration has begun the second phase in federalizing the police.”
Attorney General Loretta Lynch underscored in October 2015 the need for the federal government to collect data from local police departments, in order to “improve the accuracy and consistency” of how cops conduct their business.
“The [DOJ’s] position and the administration’s position has consistently been that we need to have national, consistent data,” she said, in a statement on the Justice Department website. “This information is useful because it helps us see trends, it helps us promote accountability and transparency. We’re also going further in developing standards for publishing information about deaths in custody as well, because transparency and accountability are helped by this kind of national data.”