Magazine article The Crisis

NAACP Launches Public Safety Campaign

Magazine article The Crisis

NAACP Launches Public Safety Campaign

Article excerpt

The NAACP launched the "Smart and Safe" campaign at its centennial celebration in July. It is designed to improve policies that will reduce racial disparities in the juvenile and criminal justice systems.

"A lot of our existing policies and practices are a challenge to the 'get tough on crime' rhetoric that has resulted in cycles of violence and victimization that have disproportionately affected African American communities and other communities of color," says Monique Morris, the NAACP's vice president of advocacy and research.

Morris says the campaign is a strategy to change the public discourse on criminal justice by framing public safety as a civil right. Initially it will focus on law enforcement accountability and incident reporting around police misconduct and abuse.

"There is an estimate [by the Bureau of Justice Statistics] that there are some 26,000 to 27,000 cases of police misconduct a year nationally, and we feel that is very underreported," says Morris. "But no one captures a comparable set of data nationwide to challenge those [underreported] numbers or to present a more realistic picture of the extent and prevalence of this issue."

The NAACP's new technology, which was demonstrated at the convention, will allow citizens who encounter or witness an incident of police misconduct to either video record or audio record it and send it to the NAACP Once the NAACP receives an incident documentation form online, the auto-response will send the form to the state conference where the incident occurred. The information collected will be used solely for data collection purposes and to inform the NAACP's advocacy efforts and discussions with policy makers.

"We really want to ensure that when we talk about public safely, we're not just saying for the general public but for each and every community, even those that are poor, even those that are disproportionately African American or Latino and who experience these disparate rates of violence and victimization," Morris says. …

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