Reforming The Police

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Can a police chief and a critic of policing find common ground on how to make change in law enforcement?

Outrage, grief, and despair over cases of police brutality and racism erupted nationwide, with growing demands for major reforms. The protests appeared to sway public opinion. A Washington Post poll in June found that 69% of Americans agreed that the killing of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis suggests a broader problem within law enforcement.

This podcast episode brings together a police chief and a critic of policing. Both discuss their hopes for better policing in the future, and find some areas of agreement on proposed changes, including greater diversity, better training, and firmer action against officers who step over the line.

Art Acevedo is Chief of Police for the Houston Police Department. He now serves as President of the Major Cities Chiefs Association. MSNBC legal analyst Maya Wiley is a civil rights activist, former board chair of New York City’s Civilian Complaint Review Board, and senior vice president for Social Justice at The New School.

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Ep. 7 – Reforming the Police

Chief Art Acevedo

Art Acevedo was sworn-in as Chief of the Houston Police Department (HPD) on November 30, 2016.

Chief Acevedo leads a department of 5,200 sworn law enforcement officers and 1,200 civilian support personnel with an annual general fund budget of $825 million in the fourth largest city in the United States.

Chief Acevedo believes good communication is vital for a successful community and steadily works to strengthen the bond between the community and its police department. A proponent of community policing, Chief Acevedo refers to the proven practice as “Relational Policing,” an opportunity to forge a relationship with each citizen an officer comes in contact with.

The first Hispanic to lead the HPD, Acevedo brings a unique understanding to the concerns of the diverse communities in the City of Houston. Born in Cuba, he was 4 years old when he migrated to the United States with his family in 1968. Acevedo grew up in California and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Public Administration from the University of La Verne in California. Acevedo began his law enforcement career in 1986 as field patrol officer in East Los Angeles with the California Highway Patrol. He rose through the ranks and was named Chief of the California Highway Patrol in 2005. Acevedo most recently served nine years as Chief of the Austin Police Department.

Chief Acevedo holds various leadership positions with the Major Cities Chiefs Association and the International Association of Chiefs of Police. He is married with three children.

Maya Wiley

Maya Wiley is a nationally renowned expert on racial justice and equity. She has litigated, lobbied the U.S. Congress, and developed programs to transform structural racism in the U.S. and in South Africa. Ms. Wiley is currently a University Professor at the New School University. She previously served as the Senior Vice President for Social Justice at the New School University and the Henry Cohen Professor of Public and Urban Policy at The New School’s Milano School of Management, Policy & Environment. She is an expert on Digital Equity and founded and Co-Directs the New School’s Digital Equity Laboratory. Ms. Wiley is also a Legal Analyst for NBC News and MSNBC.

Prior to the New School she was Counsel to New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio. As the Mayor’s chief legal advisor and a member of his Senior Cabinet, Ms. Wiley was placed at the helm of the Mayor’s commitment to expanding affordable broadband access across New York City, advancing civil and human rights and gender equity, and increasing the effectiveness of the City’s support for Minority/Women Owned Business Enterprises. She also served as the Mayor’s liaison to the Mayor’s Advisory Committee on the Judiciary.

Among her awards, in 2018 and 2019, Ms. Wiley was been named one of the world’s top 100 leaders in Digital Government by Apolitical. In 2017 Good Housekeeping Magazine honored Ms. Wiley as one of its “50 over 50.” City and State Magazine named Ms. Wiley one of the 100 most powerful people in New York City in 2014 and in 2015. She was named one of 20 Leading Black Women Social Activists Advocating Change by The Root in 2011. She was also honored as a Moves Magazine Power Woman in 2009.

Ms. Wiley holds a J.D. from Columbia University School of Law and a B.A in psychology from Dartmouth College.

Common Ground News Roundup: Fall 2019

Looking for a fresh take on finding common ground? Start with our Fall 2019 news roundup.

From clarion calls to cultivate more informed citizens and encourage a return to tact, to a look at what can happen when we hold intentional conversations, here’s a look at the top five stories from our Fall 2019 reading list.

1. Young Americans demand civic education — for good reason

The Hill – A democracy needs informed citizens if it is to thrive, or ultimately even survive. Read more.

2. Quiet mediators in noisy places

The Christian Science Monitor – From Sudan to Venezuela, honest brokers are bringing a special skill set to ending conflicts. Not all succeed. Yet their quiet force of moral persuasion can be effective. Read more.

3. America Needs to Rediscover Tact

Wall Street Journal – In our politics, holding back and minimizing pain has given way to rubbing people’s noses in defeat. Read more.

4. Searching for common ground? Start with the Constitution

The Christian Science Monitor – Amid widespread Democratic concerns about the country’s direction, former Senate staffer Janet Breslin is reaching out to local Republicans. Part 5 in a summer series on people who are facing – and successfully navigating – America’s most intractable challenges. Read more.

5. Political polarization is about feelings, not facts

The Conversation – Robert B. Talisse argues in his conversation piece that polarization isn’t about where you get your news or how politicians are divided – it’s about how a person’s political identity is wrapped up with almost everything they do. Read more.

Common Ground News Roundup: August 2019

Can left and right find common ground? Our news roundup says there’s hope.

Looking for good news on bipartisan progress and new research on solutions for overcoming the polarization of today’s politics? Read the top five stories from our August 2019 reading list.

1.) Senators: Here’s a bipartisan plan to fix America’s roads and bridges

CNN – Senators John Barrasso (R-WY) and Tom Carper (D-DE) of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public works issue a call to get a major bipartisan highway infrastructure bill done. Read more.

2.) New voices of moderation: the ‘alterna-squad’ Democrats

Christian Science Monitor – Five freshman women lawmakers in Congress have built an identity around moderation in a party often portrayed as veering sharply left. Read more.

3.) Republicans don’t understand Democrats—and Democrats don’t understand Republicans

The Atlantic – America’s political divisions are driven by hatred of an out-group, rather than love of the in-group. The question is: Why? Read more.

4.) How to increase empathy and unite society

The Economist – Expressions of political differences have become less cordial, making it harder to find common ground. But we can design institutions and interactions so people get along better. Read more.

5.) What are the solutions to political polarization?

Greater Good Magazine – What creates conflicts among groups? Here are five solutions to political polarization grounded in the psychological processes that shape how we interpret identity. Read more.