May 26, 2015 – Georgia mayors, police chiefs, stakeholders and other top municipal and law enforcement officials will assemble to discuss criminal justice and policies at Fort Valley State University on Friday, May 29, at 3 p.m. The forum is hosted by the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives and Georgia Conference of Black Mayors (CBM) and is part of the 2015 Annual Spring Conference: “Empowering Communities through Sustainable Partnerships.” Kendrick Meek, former U.S. Representative for Florida’s 17th Congressional District, will moderate the event.
Col. John I. Dixon III, Petersburg, Pa.’s police chief, and former national president of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE) said the group will be discussing law enforcement issues affecting the African-American community. These public policy issues will be discussed against the backdrop of recent coverage in national media of the tensions between the Black community and police that have focused national attention on the persistent and pervasive racial and systemic inequities in the U.S. criminal justice system.
“We are taking a look at the criminal justice system and ways to implement laws without them being targeted at a particular race or group of people,” Dixon said. “One of our biggest concerns is also Ferguson, Mo., and Baltimore, Md., and making sure that whatever the issues, that we manage and approach those situations without the violence being behind it – like burning down, robbing stores. Instead, we want to address the community issues, beforehand, so that the people will have confidence in the police, and work out what issues need to be worked out.”
The group will also examine the decriminalization of marijuana in several U.S. states. The organization will also talk about recent recommendations from the Food and Drug Administration to implement a ban on menthol cigarettes, which are primarily used by African-Americans. Dixon said the criminalization of the once-legal drug could possibly lead to increased imprisonments of individuals within the African-American community.
Dixon said when he first heard about the proposed marijuana ban, he thought it was “ludicrous.”
“This is an opportunity for the community to come in and hear what those issues are, and hopefully come up with some solutions,” Dixon said.
The National Research Council issued a comprehensive report on America’s overgrown criminal justice system. The rate of imprisonment in the United States has more than quadrupled during the last four decades. The U.S. prison population is largely drawn from men under age 40 and disproportionately minority. The Council found that high incarceration rates came about not because of an increase in crime, but because of policy choices.
This event is free and open to the general public. For more information contact, Denise Harley at 908) 526-0722 or Pamela Berry-Johnson, FVSU’s director marketing and communications at (478) 825-6319.