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October 28, 2015

(WASHINGTON, DC)   On Thursday, October 22, 2015, Richard Rosa, 3rd Vice President, HAPCOA National Board (Supervisory Federal Air Marshal), attended the White House event, “Arm Chair discussion with President Barack Obama.”  Attending were several members of Congress, Police Chiefs, Sheriffs and prosecutors from across the country.  President Obama along with Police Chief Charlie Beck (LAPD) and U.S. Attorney of the District of Colorado, John Walsh, had a candid discussion about criminal justice reformation.  Bill Keller, Editor of the Marshall Project, moderated the event.  This event is a direct result of the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing of which HAPCOA provided written commentary.  

HAPCOA Vice President Rosa reported the following report in respect to the event. 

President Obama opened with 4 key points:

1.  Fairness and Consistency – People regardless of race, or station in life people must be treated with fairness and that the law must be applied consistently.

2.  Proportionality – The punishment must fit the crime.  Non-violent crime should not fall under the same sentencing guideline as someone who has committed rape. 

3.  Recognition that incarceration is not the only solution.  Where are we spending our money?  $80 billion is spent each year in our prison system.  We need smarter sentencing and evidence-based approach to rehabilitation and reducing recidivism.  In turn, resources are saved and can be spent in the community.

4. We can’t put the problem and the onus on law enforcement.   

During the discussion:

Issues of Mandatory Minimum sentencing were raised and how there has been a 25% reduction. The Smart on Crime policy put in place during former Attorney General Holder has contributed to this reduction.  Mr. Walsh commented on how prosecutors love Mandatory Minimums because they are used as leverage. 

Both John Walsh and Chief Beck agree that it is important to expand community programs.  The federal grants once received from COPS have been reduced and need to be revisited.

The President commented on how the criminal justice system is a reflection of us.  Communities, societies and the states must work with law enforcement.  Law enforcement must build trust with their communities.  

The importance of Data Collection in identifying crime trends was raised.  The President is concerned that we don’t do a good job of collecting real-time data. 

The President went on to talk about the Black Lives Matter group but did state that All Lives Matter.  He recognized that police officers have a tough job. In closing the President thanked the Chiefs of Police for the good work they’re doing.


HAPCOA 3rd Vice President Richard Rosa and HAPCOA member Assistant Police Chief Paul J. Figueroa from the Oakland Police Department.

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