WASHINGTON (AP) — Attorney General William Barr on Wednesday named 18 law enforcement officials to a presidential commission that aims to study ways to reduce crime and increase respect for the law.
The last presidential law enforcement commission was established in 1965, and one of its recommendations led to the creation of the national emergency number 911.
The new commission’s members include senior federal law enforcement officials, including the FBI’s deputy director and the acting director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, as well as police chiefs, sheriffs, prosecutors and rank-and-file officers from around the country.
The commission will explore how mental illness, substance abuse and homelessness are affecting law enforcement; how police departments can improve community relations; how the agencies can recruit and retain more officers; how changes in technology are affecting policing; and how to best tackle issues such as the opioid epidemic, cybercrime and the fight over warrant-proof encryption.
“It is the rule of law that is fundamental to ensuring both freedom and security, and it is our more than 900,000 women and men on the beat who, every single day, uphold the rule of law,” Barr said.
Barr also highlighted what he described as a “a disturbing pattern of cynicism and disrespect shown toward law enforcement.” The attorney general also pointed to a decline in hiring and retention of police officers and an increase in the number of law enforcement officials who have killed themselves.
“All Americans should agree that nobody wins when trust breaks down between the police and the community they serve. We need to address the divide,” Barr said.