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Community 2020 Forum on
Strengthening Communities and Increasing Public Safety


TRANSCRIPT OF PROCEEDINGS

Speakers:

Secretary Andrew Cuomo
Sonia Bergos
Reverend Eugene Rivers
William Bratton
Dr. Cornell West


Office of the Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs
Office of Community Planning and Development
451 7th Street, Southwest, Room 10130
Washington, DC 20410-4000


Moderator

Ladies and gentlemen, would you kindly take your seats? Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Secretary Andrew Cuomo, accompanied by Sonia Bergos, Reverend Eugene Rivers, William Bratton and Dr. Cornell West.

Ms. Bergos

Good afternoon. And welcome to Community 2020. I am Sonia Bergos. I serve as the Director of HUD's Community, Safety and Conservation Division in the Office of Public and Assisted Housing Delivery. For those of you not familiar with federal government, that's not a short title.

Prior to joining HUD, I spent 14 years with the New York City Police Department. It is my pleasure to officially welcome all of you here today to the Department of Housing and Urban Development. This is the fifth of a series of forums on the future of the American city.

The topic of today's session is strengthening communities, increasing public safety through new strategies and old values. To discuss this very important topic, we are honored to be joined by some of the best, brightest and most committed individuals in America. Our own Secretary is certainly among that number.

However, before asking Secretary Cuomo to kick off tonight's discussions, I will introduce our other distinguished speakers in that order that they will speak.

Reverend Eugene Rivers has developed several programs and ministries that address the problems of youth crime and violence in the City of Boston. Among them are the Azuza Christian Community and the Ten Point Coalition. As a result of his efforts, and the work of the local police department, Boston now has one of the lowest juvenile crime rates in the nation.

Reverend Rivers is now working with the African American churches across the nation to duplicate his local achievements in much of larger areas. The June 1, 1998, issue of Newsweek magazine features Reverend Rivers in a cover story entitled, God versus Gangs with a subtitle asking, What's the Hottest Idea in Crime Fighting? The Power of Religion. Welcome, Reverend Rivers.

William Bratton has one of the most distinguished police careers in the nation. He has been at the forefront of implementing a new wave of community policing throughout the country. As a New York City police commissioner, he pioneered the broken window approach to community policing, achieving a 33 percent reduction in reported felony and 50 percent reduction in homicides.

In the City of Boston, he moved the police department to full implementation of the successful community policing approach. His popular book, "Turn Around", shares valuable information on crime reduction techniques, management and leadership and has often caused him to be referred to as America's top cop.

Dr. Cornell West is one of America's leading intellectuals. He's a Professor of Religion and Afro-American Studies at Harvard University where he is one of the first black scholars to be appointed to the university's highest faculty post of university professor. This is a title held by only a handful of faculty members.

His books include, Race Matters, Restoring Hope, Jews and Blacks and Let the Healing Begin. His latest book, The War Against Parents, focuses on the plight of American families, especially the role of fathers. Welcome, Father, Professor West. We were so inspirationally praised by his presence that I wanted to refer to him as father.

Again, it's truly an honor to have all of you with us today. Please join us once again in welcoming them.

Over a year ago, it was Secretary Cuomo who took up Vice President Gore's challenge to bring in leading experts to focus on the future of urban America. Secretary Cuomo believes that not too long ago HUD was known as an agency of bricks and mortar and had lost its historic role as an agency of ideas.

As head of this department, Secretary Cuomo has displayed tremendous leadership in giving new energy and life to this department that once was threatened with extinction. One of his major accomplishments has been in the area of crime prevention and community policing. He understands the impact that crime can make on a neighborhood and believes that in policies and programs that we here share to secure safe communities.

One of HUD's best success stories this year has been a new program called the Officer Next Door, a program created and designed by Secretary Cuomo.

As someone who has worked closely with him on public housing, prevention efforts, I can attest to the fact that his dedication and leadership has done much to focus attention on community policing and crime prevention safety in issues in public housing. It is my great pleasure to introduce a leader of vision, action and results, my boss, Secretary Cuomo.

Secretary Cuomo

Thank you. Thank you, Officer Bergos. Frankly, I was hoping that I was going to be Father Cuomo if you're going to be Father West. I was not so ordained, I guess.

Thank you. Thank you, Sonia. Not just for the kind introduction, but Officer Bergos's great work here at the Department of Housing and Urban Development, really changing the condition and climate of public housing across this nation making it a better, safer place. And if it wasn't for her good work, that wouldn't have happened. I want to thank you very much, Officer Bergos.

We're very excited about this seminar series. As you heard from Officer Bergos, this is a different type of exercise for the Department of Housing and Urban Development, actually truer to its formation. HUD was the brainchild of President John F. Kennedy. He did not live to see its manifestation. But it was his idea.

When he talked about the Department of Housing and Urban Development, he did not talk about a program administrator. He didn't talk about a grant giver. But he was thinking of a national center for policy and innovation, a place where you would discuss the great issues of the day, learn from each other, debate the issues, and come up with policy through that process. That was the vision for HUD.

President Johnson actually came up with the legislation that created the department, but he was carrying out John F. Kennedy's vision.

We never really captured here at the department � since its formation � that center of innovation and policy, but for this series. And we literally have touched on the great issues with the great minds. That's what the vision of this seminar series was all about. This is the fifth seminar series. We've already had one on jobs, economic development, race, fair housing, homelessness and today crime.

We literally have had the best minds from the nation. Many of the people here tonight have been at all of those seminars. And we've had the best minds, the best experts and really have had provocative, thoughtful, interesting discussions.

And tonight stands in that tradition. As a matter of fact, the turnout tonight is over 1,000 people, here this evening to hear this seminar from these gifted experts. That is the highest turnout of any of the seminars we've had. We're all trying to take credit for it.

But since I've been at all of them, it can't be me. So it's going to be between these three. It really goes through not just the topic and the relevance of the topic, but also the quality of person we have here today.

Reverend Rivers is a pioneer in what he's doing. This is a new modality of approach. Faith based organizations as community organizers, as community development tools, really the cutting edge and Reverend Rivers is at the forefront of that cutting edge and an entirely new movement.

Commissioner Bratton, top cop. I was in New York and I saw what this man did and this man is a revolutionary. You've heard the numbers. You've read the books. I lived it in New York. And not in Manhattan, which is sort of how most people think of New York. But it's an island and it's a different place.

One of the first projects that I developed was in East New York which is misleading because it's in Brooklyn, New York. It's near Bedford Stuyvesant, a police precinct which was the 75th precinct. One of the highest crime precincts in the City of New York.

That's where they let you build low income housing. They gave you the privilege of doing it in one of the toughest areas, highest crime precincts in the city.

Police precincts in New York City is several square miles. In the 75th precinct, there were more murders per year in that one precinct than the entire City of Boston. It was a war zone. I can't tell you how many people I saw killed during the ten years that I worked there.

Commissioner Bratton comes in. The number of murders in that precinct reduced 75 percent during his stay, 75 percent. Literally saved lives.

We have Professor West, who is my brother, who is one of the leading intellectuals and visionaries on this issue. He has provoked an entirely new thought and analysis and we're all following his lead, cities in general.

We released a report a few weeks ago called the State of the Cities, second annual state of the cities. President Clinton issues it the way State of the Union. He does the State of the Cities. It talks about how the cities are doing. We did one last year and we did one this year.

This year it says the cities are doing well. They are doing better today than at any time in the short term history. They're doing better with jobs, creating more jobs than they had been. The population attrition is less. Home ownership is up. Unemployment is down. Cities are doing better than at any time in about the past 10 or 15 years.

Crime is one of the largest single accomplishments in that rebirth. But the President went on to say in this report, even though the cities are doing well short term, the long term patterns are still bad.

You look at cities today versus 30 years ago, by and large, they're still smaller. They're poorer. The poverty is more concentrated. They're losing the middle class and they're losing jobs. That's the long term pattern.

If you look at the way things are going despite the strong economy, despite all this vibrancy, despite all this affluence and all this wealth and all this positivism, you still have pockets in this country that are not enjoying that success. There are people who are not enjoying that success.

And in many ways you are seeing a polarization of this society that you have not seen since we started taking a look in the first place. You have more millionaires in this American society than you have ever had before. Which is a great tribute to capitalism. You also have more homeless people. Great, great polarization.

More wealth in fewer hands than ever before. Highest income inequality in history. Top 10 percent own more than the bottom 90 percent. That kind of polarization is not healthy. And we cannot make it long term with that kind of polarization.

The education system, one of the areas that gives me the most pause is the polarization within the education system. Where depending on where you live will dictate what type of education you receive. And what type of education will dictate what type of future.

If you don't get the right education in this economy, you're not going to have a successful future. This new economy is going to be about what you know, about your brain power, your skills. And if you don't have the right education, you're not going to make it.

This is not an economy of 20 years ago where you could do it by effort. They could give you a shovel and you could dig your way out of poverty. You're now going to have to think your way out of poverty.

And if you went to a public school that didn't give you the education, you're going to be left behind. And you have these great private schools and these great rich public schools from richer districts that are educating people in a fundamentally different way than they're being educated in the inner city in a public school.

You have the better schools where they go to the first grade and they're on the Internet. You go to the poorest school on the poor side of town, they can't even get a basketball net.

First grade in a rich school district, they're playing on a Pentium processor. All this great technology. On the poor side of town, the most sophisticated piece of electronic equipment they deal with is the metal detector that they walk through on the way to the class.

That kind of polarization will be damning for us. The epitome of the polarization is racism. Tough topic, but it is alive and well in this nation.

You talk about any of these issues in the entire seminar series. You can talk about crime. You can talk about housing. You can talk about economic development. What is the common denominator that underlies all of it is race. And we are not making the type of progress that we need to with that issue.

God bless President Clinton for stepping up to the podium and having the courage to look at the American people and say we have to do more. We have to make one America. We have a long way to go, but we do.

You look at what happened in Jasper, Texas just a few weeks ago. The brutality, the ugliness, the depravity, the sickness. You literally torture a man because of the color of his skin. As obnoxious an act as you have ever committed as a people. And then you ask what the state of the cities are. You have a lot of work to do.

One of the areas where we are making progress is the area of fighting crime. All the numbers are amazingly strong. Over the past six years, listen to this, violent crime is down 27 percent nationwide. Violent crime is down 20 percent in the cities. The decline is the longest steady decline in 25 years.

Nationally, the homicide rate is at its lowest since the '60s. Property crimes, burglaries are down 44 percent. Violent crime in the City of San Antonio is down 50 percent. The City of New York, violent crime is down 45 percent. Los Angeles, it's down 36 percent. When you do something about crime, you end a pervasive destructive force.

What killed the cities back in the '60s? Why did people flee to the suburbs in the first place? They were literally afraid. Crime fueled that exodus to the suburbs.

And who pays the price of crime? It literally preys on the most vulnerable among us. Seniors and poorer Americans are more often the victims of crime. That's why we have to do something about it.

African Americans, are a third more likely to be victims of crime. Poor people are victimized at twice the rate that wealthier Americans are victimized.

Now, the $64,000 question is why has crime come down the way it has? There is no one answer. We'll hear different theories on it tonight. But certainly it is a combination of factors.

One set of factors deal with the law enforcement. We lock up more people and we do it better than we have ever done it. There is no doubt that the enforcement we now do is better than ever before. Community policing revolutionized the entire business.

And just by sheer numbers, we have more people in prison than we ever had. We have more prison cells than we ever had. We lock up more people in this nation than any other industrialized nation on the globe � period.

The law enforcement efforts of this administration, the leadership of Attorney General Reno, the Cops program, 100,000 more police, our efforts with Operation Safe Home, Officer Next Door program that Officer Bergos talked about. They all make a difference.

The enforcement: Commissioner Bratton revolutionized it. It's working. It's one of the reasons the rate is down. But I'm equally convinced, and the police officers will tell you, that you're not going to solve this problem by just locking up people. You can't build enough prison cells.

The toughest cop on the toughest beat will tell you, yes, you have to do the enforcement, but you still have to have a soft heart. I don't care how many times you say no to drugs, say no to drugs, say no to drugs, that's not enough unless there's something to say yes to.

You want to say that the role model of the drug dealer is no good. Where is the successful role model? Where is the college graduate? Where is the person who did well and got a job and got a family and got a house?

You have to provide the positive as well as the negative. You can't just wish it. You can't just admonish people to follow the Golden Rule. You have to show them positive signs of success and give them a hand up that ladder. Because the economy's not there for them and the education system is not there for them. And the job training is not there for them.

Welfare to work: You should get off welfare. Nobody wanted to be on welfare. But where is the education to get off welfare and the transportation and the day care and the job to get off welfare. That's how it's going to work.

Get off the street corner: Get off the street corner. You're right. And go where? Where is the after school program? Where is the baseball field? Where is the club to keep us together?

I understand what not to do, but tell me what I should be doing. And help me to do it. That's the part of the equation that we have to focus on at this time.

We're doing the lockup part extraordinarily well. We've built prison cells and made it an entire industry. Now do as well investing in people with the education and the skills and remembering all of that. That's in my opinion where we're going to have to start to focus more.

That's what empowerment zones are all about. Bring the economy into that inner city. That's what HUD economic development loans are all about. That's what community development is all about.

Commissioner Bratton � the broken window; fix up the neighborhood; repair the neighborhood. When a place looks deteriorated and is on the decline, it effects people, the way they act, the way they feel about themselves, their family, their community.

Fix it up. Fix it up. One broken window leads to the destruction of the entire neighborhood. Do that type of community development. Invest in America.

Now, how's this going to happen? Who's going to do it? We the federal government are not. And we cannot. You can't do this from Washington. This is going to be community by community across the country.

That's the lesson of Reverend Rivers. No big federal cookie cutter. Maybe not even a government program. A new form of association where people really live, in the churches.

What is the institution that exists in these communities, that has existed, that people really care about and brings people together? The churches. The faith based institutions. Why not go in through them? Let's get outside of the box.

It has to be government: It has to be government. It has to be government. People don't live in government. It doesn't motivate. It doesn't motivate them. It doesn't move them. That's not what they believe in.

Faith based community associations; community by community. Rebuild that family. Who are the first two law enforcement officials in a person's life? Their mother and their father. Those are the first two law enforcement officials. Get them back in place. You're not going to do it despite them. You're not going to educate them outside the family. Get them back..

And again, don't wish the family to be reconstructed. Help the family to be reconstructed. Provide the incentives to have the family reconstructed. The way we do for so many families in this nation. Make sure we have the same incentives and assistance for the poorest among us.

Law enforcement, yes. Positive incentives, yes also. Investment strategies, also. Community by community across this country. Different organizations putting it together. That's how we're going to make it and we're already on the road.

Many, many positive signs of success. Many lessons to draw from. President Clinton says there is nothing wrong in America that can't be solved by what is being done right in America.

Three of those lessons are sitting in front of you today. Many more of them are in the audiences and hundreds are in communities, all across this nation. We now have to have the intelligence, as a people, to find those models of success and invest in replicating them in every community across this nation. Together we will. Thank you for being with us today. Now on to the panel.

Reverend Rivers

Amen. Amen. He's got potential. I know a couple of good Baptist churches that could use a little. Amen.

Secretary Cuomo, I want to thank you for the invitation to be on this panel with you this evening. It's an honor and a privilege and I bring you greetings from the great City of Boston where our mayor, Thomas M. Menino, and our police commissioner, Paul Evans, have been working with the faith communities over the years to bring the success for which many deserve credit.

While I appeared on the cover of Newsweek magazine, one of the limitations of the visual image as a medium to characterize a reality is that it's finite. It doesn't give justice to all of the countless numbers of individuals whose images will not appear on the cover of major magazines.

There are countless numbers of individuals who have labored in the vineyard and not gotten the recognition or the credit for the sacrifice and sacrifices that they have given in the process of making Boston the safer place that it is.

I'm excited about the opportunity to be here this evening for a number of reasons:

Secretary Cuomo, I am amazed at the extraordinary success and the innovations that you have been responsible for which would have been inconceivable in 1971 when I met Cornell West at Harvard and we began our long conversation indirectly and directly around the role of the faith community and the moral obligation of black churches to do more than simply preach about the poor, but to bear witness and serve the interests of the poor.

And so I'm very excited here this evening. I want to really commend you for your community builder program, which I understand is going to put community organizers in communities, meeting the needs of folk who are, in many cases, ignored and disregarded.

I've benefited from the work that this department has done in providing opportunity for the homeless in Boston. As people are brought off the street and provided with sanctuary space to be protected from the elements in all kinds of adversities that one can experience once you're deprived of the opportunity of shelter.

I'm especially encouraged by your Center for Community and Interfaith Partnerships, which to me, quite frankly, is very revolutionary. Twenty years ago to talk about that kind of partnership would have been inconceivable in that folk who live far removed from the problem would have insisted that the state could have no functional relationship with faith communities, but it is a function of your insight and your vision and your practical common sense.

This partnership exists and creates the context and the space for a dialogue and a conversation which will generate measurable outcomes. And for that reason, I'm very thankful to be here this afternoon.

I'm also very thankful for Father Joe who I've known for years and my brother Willie Alvin who have been working, laboring in the vineyard, in the faith community, prodding us in the church to be more responsive to the needs of the broader community.

And so for me, this is a real honor and privilege to stand before you as I simply represent the work and effort of countless numbers of individuals who are working now to improve the quality of life in our communities.

Being a Black preacher, it usually takes us about 15 minutes to clear our throat. But coming from the high octane wing of the Black church, the Pentacostals, I believe in the miraculous. So I'm going to achieve two miracles this evening. One, I'm going to be relatively brief. And two, I'm going to say something reasonably substantive. Praise the Lord.

I've got three points to make. Amen. A conceptual point. You see, in Boston, as a result of the fact that the clergy were challenged a step beyond the pulpit and the pews, moving to the street to translate the rhetoric of resurrection and redemption into a reality which said we must respond to the needs of the least of these � we were able to develop a deeper understanding as we learned from the young heroin dealer why we had failed.

From the young people in the street, we learned why our communities were being held hostage by their own children. Living in communities where the adults and the fathers were in fear of their lives, being held hostage by children.

In the context of a series of conversations with young drug dealers, as they invited us out of the church into the street, we learned how we could more effectively meet the needs and to reduce the crime.

There was a conceptual framework that they provided which was illuminated by much of the work that my brother Cornell West has been doing for years as he, in his own way, theologically and intellectually attempted to challenge the church to move beyond its own class limitations.

In an essay which was published in 1992, in the Boston Review, entitled, On the Responsibility of Intellectuals in the Age of Crack, I began to set down what I had learned from young people in the street regarding the conditions that they confronted and what kinds of things needed to be done to correct them.

There I wrote, assume then, that conditions for Black Americans in the inner cities persist. Two developments will follow:

First, we can safely assume that young mothers and fathers will not transmit to their progeny the values and norms associated with intellectual and cultural achievement.

Second, as entry into labor markets is increasingly dependent upon education and high skills, we will see, perhaps for the first time in the history of the United States, a generation of obsolete Americans. But remarkably, the tragedy we face is still worse.

Unlike many of their ancestors who came out of slavery and entered this century with strong backs, discipline, a thirst for literacy, deep religious faith and hope in the face of monumental adversity, we have produced a generation ill-equipped to secure gainful employment, even as productive slaves.

This generation, who would be ineligible to qualify for slavery, provides a unique insight into the nature of economic inequality in an advanced industrial society.

Consider this achievement, ladies and gentlemen. A generation of poor Black women and children may reach the end of this century in an economically and politically inferior position to their ancestors who entered the century in the shadow of formal slavery. Unable to see a more rational future through the eyes of faith, they lack the hope that sustained their forbearers. Lacking hope, they experience what Orlando Patterson has called social death.

But unlike the social death of formal slavery, this new social death is fundamentally spiritual, rooted in the destruction of faith and hope. In a world without faith and hope, history and identity are themselves divested of meaning.

And so, as Christian philosopher Cornell West, has consistently argued, the future is transformed into a spectacle of nihilism and decay. It is in the end this profoundly spiritual nature of the crisis that gives it its unique historical character.

What is remarkable about this meeting and the initiatives undertaken by the Secretary, here, is that we now can partner in collaborative ways to address a crisis which at the deepest level conceptually has a spiritual root. So that the faith communities are now challenged in a way which is unique in the history of this republic to make themselves more responsive to the needs of the poor.

As a result of what we learned in Boston off the streets, as young drug dealers said to us, you the faith community must create sanctuary space to which we can come. It is a powerful indictment of the church that it is easier for a young girl on crack to find refuge and sanctuary in a crack house and a speak easy, than it is for that child to find refuge and sanctuary in a bit church on a Friday night.

That challenge convicted us as clergy and said to us that we were being morally remiss and we were being derelict in our spiritual responsibility if we did not make ourselves accessible to the needs of those who are suffering.

And so now faith communities, as a result of the extraordinary leadership that you have exhibited, have an opportunity to reconnect with a generation of children who are, in too many instances, drowning in their own blood in the absence of responsible adults who provide the love and the nurturing that they suffer from the absence of.

A practical point: As a result, and I want to commend my colleague, Commissioner Bratton, because he is to be commended up until the time that Commissioner Bratton came to Boston, we were in a state of virtual political race war with the law enforcement community.

But as a function of his farsightedness, quite frankly, and this sense of realism, he understood it didn't make no sense getting into a fight with Black preachers around issues of violence and injustice. And in a state of heightened purposcasity, he decided to reach out to the clergy. As a result, bless the Lord, as a result, we were able to do three things which contribute to the miracle in Boston.

Because the Black clergy would get off the pulpit, move beyond the pews, we were able to deracialize law enforcement. We said to the law enforcement community, out of every ten kids, there are probably nine that are good and one Bobby Bad. You can have Bobby Bad and we'll take the nine. As a result, we were able to function as honest brokers, so that in cases when children were at risk, the faith community could serve as sanctuary, a practical point.

Further, we were willing to partner with the probation department. So any kid that didn't need to go to jail, we would open up our churches so that a child could be sentenced to an alternative program to provide literacy.

We said, listen. Give us this child, sentence this child to a literacy program and we will reduce the material and cultural incentives for them to engage in antisocial activity. And it will be infinitely more cost effective than incarceration and the construction of jails.

We are saying that the faith communities have a unique opportunity, as a result of the extraordinary leadership that you have here, to transform the lives of countless numbers of young people by deracializing law enforcement. Saying that, listen.

On the one hand, we must have justice, but justice must be tempered by a recognition that there must be order because law and order is a basic institutional precondition for civilized society. And we will defend that. We will defend law and order as well as the needs of the poor. And then practically, we said there are specific things that the Black Church can do.

Number one. Now I've got the pulpit. Number two. The faith communities need to commission outreach workers and missionaries on the streets.

A young drug dealer captured the point very powerfully. He said, Minister, I'm going to tell you why I hold your neighborhood hostage. When Johnny goes to school in the morning, I'm there. You're not. When Johnny comes home from school in the afternoon, I'm there. You're not. When Johnny goes to the corner store for a loaf of bread for mamma for dinner, I'm there. You're not. I win. You lose.

You, Preacher, need to make yourself more available to the needs of children. So put your religion and your lips where your hips should be, in the communities, making yourself more accessible to the kids.

It was a very powerful point. Then he said, listen. Commission a lay person to come to court on a Monday morning. When Rahim and Junior get locked up Friday night, they need a message of faith and renewal when they drag them up into that court and arraign them on Monday morning.

Commission your churches to sponsor economic development alternatives to give that young drug dealer a material reason for believing that he can do the right thing, legally. Partner with community health centers so that you can provide that abstinence oriented sex education that you complain other people don't do.

The faith community, and let me say this, the faith communities must be more responsive on the issue of AIDS. As we see, increasingly, the AIDS epidemic engulfing the lives of young people, the churches must stand up, take our heads out of the sand and defend the needs of folk who are dying.

We in the faith communities must be more responsive and reach out to partner with agencies such as HUD to create viable alternatives.

Lastly, we are currently involved in Boston in a mobilization of churches in the city as young clergy and lay folks are reaching out to Bloods, Cryps and folk who are servicing the middle schools.

We are trying to build a national mobilization on the ground. This is not big preachers in grits and chicken. This is getting young clergy and lay folk working in partnership with probation, economic development initiatives, the law enforcement community to create an environment in which we will intercept children before they get pulled into the gangs as we mobilize and do outreach to them.

We have been in the last couple of months to 55 schools and spoken to 3,000 students working to create viable economic alternatives.

And we are suggesting, as I conclude that the opportunities for resurrecting faith and hope stand before us, if we will join hands with the government and partner, we can create a new opportunity because children may be 30 percent of the present, but they are 100 percent of our future. And we, the people of God, must be more effective and responsive. Thank you, very much.

Commissioner Bratton

After the two previous speakers, I don't even know where to begin. The prophet and the miracle worker. Well, now you have the trilogy. The optimist.

As a former police commissioner, for me to say I stand before you tonight and speak of myself as an optimist, that's somewhat of an oxymoron. We may have to give out dictionaries tonight so we can go with some of these remarks. But I am here as an optimist. And I'm here as an optimist as reflected in some of the comments from the Secretary and Reverend Rivers.

Ten years ago in this country, there were very few people who were optimistic about the issue of crime. We had come to believe that it was going to be an ever present part of our lives because it was bad and it seemed to be getting worse all the time.

But in ten years time, we have seen the beginnings of a miracle. We have begun to plant the seeds that will allow more and more of us to be potentially optimistic about the issue of crime. The ability to reduce it significantly. Maybe not solve it.

We are, after all, human beings.

And the religious in our life have been trying for 2000 years to deal with that issue. But we can, in fact, significantly reduce crime. And in doing that, another issue about which I am an optimist is the issue of race. Because the two are linked together, linked together in a negative way in the past.

But, as I look to 2020, to the next millennium, I think that there may be a way to finally separate the two. And in addressing the one, crime, we can effectively address the other. The irony is the entity that I think that may be the most significant factors, as I believe it has been in city after city in this country in dealing with the issue of crime, may just be the police.

And there are many of you in this audience who, with good cause, would initially be doubtful of that. Because for most of the history of this country, the police, in dealing with the issue of crime, have exacerbated the issue of race. Because for so many years in our history, the police were used as the instrument of control over our minorities.

And even in the more enlightened era of the '60s, '70s and '80s, police are still seen, as they struggle with the issues of crime, as the flashpoint of so much of the racial violence that has been inflicted upon so many of our cities and our states.

Well, I want to talk to you today about optimism about crime and race and how I see one the success that we are beginning to experience building on a potential success with the other.

The Secretary talked about the 75 precinct, East New York, Brooklyn, the killing fields as that precinct was known, 142 murders in 1990 in that 1 1/2 square mile area of the City of New York with about 125,000 residents.

The City of Boston, 1990, with 600,000 residents. One of the worst homicide years ever in the history of that city had significantly fewer homicides as the Secretary referenced. Well, this year, 1998, to date, in the precinct, there have been, I believe at last count about, 14 murders. Still a horrific number, but 14 versus 142.

Ironically, they still have more murders than the City of Boston. Because Boston, so far this year, when I last visited Paul Evans about a month ago at that time, had approximately a dozen murders. A dozen down from the killing fields of the City of Boston in 1990 when there were more than 100.

And the killing fields, as the Reverend knows so well, were three neighborhoods in the City of Boston that accounted for the vast majority of them: Roxberry, Matapien and North Dorchester, the Black neighborhoods of Boston. As is the case with the 75 precincts.

Because, as the Secretary referenced, not only are our Blacks and indeed our Hispanic citizens were significantly more likely to be the victims of crime, the reality is that they are.

So my reason for optimism is the miracle of the 75 precinct, the miracle of the City of Boston, where there has been such dramatic decline. And in some respects, the miracle of America. A miracle that began in the '90s with an enlightened administration that understood that we were going to have to do something about crime.

And after years of rhetoric and doing nothing, the national government began to finally put money where its mouth was for so long, in the crime bureau and all that it incorporated in terms of additional police for those cities that needed it. And finally, some sane gun laws coming into being.

All these types of things that the Clinton Administration has been able to move forward have all benefitted us and they've all played a part.

But from my perspective, as a police commissioner, as somebody who's spent most of my life in policing, and as I've looked carefully around this country at what is working in city after city, definitely in Boston and New York, a significant factor, in some instances the most significant, in others a significant factor, has been a different type of policing.

And that different type of policing is community policing, partnership, problem solving, prevention. Partnership in the case of the City of Boston, relied very heavily on the Black ministry in that city to go after the problem of youth crime. Because the problem of crime and fear in Boston was among its young people as the Reverend so eloquently talked about.

In New York, it was more broadly based. In Los Angeles, a different set of factors. In Chicago, a different set of factors.

But the beauty of community policing is that it allows policing for the first time to focus on the individual problems and to draw on the partnership of working with the community, working with the ministry, working with the federal government, all of us in this together.

And what are we seeing? We're seeing prevention. We're seeing reduction, but most importantly, we're seeing prevention. It's going down and it's not going back up.

Because the miracle that has occurred in American policing that leads me to have so much optimism based on my personal experiences as I look to 2020 is that American police are back on the streets.

The Reverend talked about that drug dealer. I'm there and you're not. Well, for 25 years in this country, the drug dealers and the pimps and the prostitutes and the gang bangers were on the streets of America and American police we're not. And that's the truth. We were just not there. We depoliced America's streets for 25 years.

Well, under community policing, we're back. We're putting cops back where they're needed. And what is their mission? Not to chase 911 calls, not just to respond to crime after the fact. Their mission is to prevent it in the first place.

As a police commissioner, a police chief, a police superintendent, I've had all of those titles, I was always focused on the prevention of crime. There's not a cop in America today who wouldn't prefer to be able to save a victim rather than to inform a family member about a victim.

We have changed police in America. And in terms of my optimism about dealing with that second issue, race, let me explain why I'm potentially optimistic about that.

The goal in Boston and the goal in New York, and I can speak to that. Because as one of the principle architects of both of those experiences, my goal was to put the police back into those streets, to push the drug dealers, the pimps, the prostitutes, off of those streets.

In the case of the drug dealers, get them into buildings, get them off of streets, more difficult for us to get them in the buildings. But we secured the streets. So we reduced the signs that they were in control. We reduced the opportunities for the drive by shootings. And by encouraging a more proactive policing in which things that had been neglected and ignored for 25 years, we now began to focus on disorderly behavior, the so-called broken windows.

I had come to understand, as a young patrol officer and a sergeant, that the type of policing with its emphasis on 911 response and its emphasis on just riding around willy nilly wasn't working.

What I came to understand was that police in policing in a different way could have major impact. And so the focus of what I did as a chief, which so many chiefs around this country are now embracing, was to put police with the cooperation of the community back into neighborhoods working on neighborhood problems.

And what were those problems? Real crime as in the case of the 75th precinct, 142 murders. That's real crime for you. But there's also those drug dealers and the pimps and the prostitutes and the rowdy gangs on the corners.

Because we came to understand under the broken windows concept, that disorderly behavior leads to fear. Fear leads to displacement, both socially and physically. Socially, in terms of people staying in their homes and those looking forward to fleeing the cities.

And that fear emboldens the criminal element to go on and commit even more significant crime. To the point that the drug dealer can safely say to the Reverend, I'm there and you're not and the police aren't either.

Well, the police are back. We're back with authorization, political. We're back with authorization and partnership with the community. But what we have not achieved, but we may be able to achieve and have the optimism I have about the issue of race.

So much of what we have been engaged in results in negative encounters. As we are saying to citizens, both White and Black and Hispanic and Asian, you cannot do this any longer. You cannot do that any longer. Society must have rules. It must have laws. In a democracy, our elected officials, with our acquiesce, put into place laws and we are now expecting the police to, once again, after 25 years of benign neglect to enforce them.

That's what happened in the subways in New York. That's what happened in streets of New York. That's what happened in the streets of Boston and is happening around the country.

If done inappropriately, if done insensitively, it can, in fact, lead to unfortunately some of the circumstances that do occur with too much frequency, particularly in our inner cities, particularly between our White officers and our minority citizens.

There are trade-offs and these trade-offs are not acceptable by any circumstances. On the plus side, by taking back the streets, and I'll use New York as a clear example, 2,242 murders in the City of New York in 1990. This year we expect about 650. And we celebrate the fact that 1,500 citizens and almost 4,000 others who would have been shot will not experience that this year in New York City.

But what we need to also celebrate is that there are about five to six thousand young men, primarily minorities, who will not commit those murders, who will not commit those shootings, and who will not go to jail to fill those prisons that we've been building for 20 years.

In a moment of emotion, which so many of these instances are, we have prevented that by enforcement on the street where no longer are they carrying guns so routinely or streets that are out of control. So the trade-off has been in exchange for a safer city, the opportunity for more people to live and the opportunity for fewer people to go to jail, we have had flashpoints. But we are getting better at dealing with that.

And as we restore order in our cities, the need for negative encounters between our police and our citizens, and particularly between police and our minority citizens will diminish. Because so much of what is being corrected or being addressed will no longer be there.

And the time will approach when the energies of the police can be focused on true community policing in which those energies that have had to of necessity been focused on dealing with crime and disorder that have been neglected for so long.

We can now begin to use those police on assigned beats, in neighborhoods, in schools, as mentors, as monitors, as ministers. We know that the 3Ms work. We have studied it. They're not costly. Mentoring. Each of us giving a couple of hours out of our week to a young child, to read to them, to provide an adult presence.

Monitoring, we know that the parole system in Boston that emphasizes parole officers going out with police to ensure that young people are home and not out on the streets and ministers who work with them. We know that that monitoring works. And we know that mentoring, administering and monitoring are all successful.

And I see a time when police can do both. We're capable of doing both. And it's to our advantage and to our benefit to do both because it creates a safer environment for all of us.

So wouldn't it be ironic that the entity in our lives, the police, that have so often been a catalyst or flashpoint for the exhibition of racism, for the terrible horrific incidents that have occurred in our cities, wouldn't it be ironic if at a time when a degree of peace and stability has been returned to our neighborhoods, that those efforts, because the police are there all the time.

The drug dealer's comment, that's why I love that comment from the minister. I'm there and you're not. If we get the police back into those neighborhoods, not as an occupying army, not as an entity that's seen as them versus us, not as a white and black issue, but get them there as part of the community, we're there all the time.

And if we are more enlightened, better trained, better educated and look more like the communities we police, well, then 2020 might in fact be a year of celebration, that America has faced not only its prime problem, but in doing so maybe we might have begun to see true movement in dealing with our race problem.

That's the optimism that I have and that's the belief I have that that, in fact, will occur. Thank you.

Dr. West

Let me first say that it's more than a pleasure and delight for me to be here. It's an honor and privilege as well as a blessing. I'd like to thank the very kind and generous words of my new friend and sister Sonia Bergos at the very beginning of this program.

It's always a pleasure to spend some time with Brother Eugene Rivers. It's true we go back 27 years now. We both have a little more grey, but we hope a little more wisdom and courage, as well.

Similarly so, for my friend and brother William Bratton. We've been on many panels together. I always learn much. And to be able to hear my friend, my colleague, my comrade, my brother, Secretary Andrew Cuomo speak with passion about the under side of American society and connect it with a sense of possibility.

It's rare these days among higher officials, especially among politicians. It's true they'd rather talk about good times. They want to talk about how wonderful things are. The stock market breaking records and so forth.

Well, fine. But something else is going on in American life. There's still too much social misery in our midst. And to hear Brother Cuomo talk about it with an authenticity and a sense of genuine engagement is refreshing to me.

I cannot go on without acknowledging the presence of one of the towering freedom fighters of the 20th century whose life has exemplified this passion for justice and this love of others. And I'm talking about Sister Dorothy. Please stand, Dorothy.

Her presence, itself, is an affirmation of the sense of hope and possibility and what's going on both here at HUD as well as the Clinton Administration at its best. Dot, dot, dot.

I want to begin my very brief remarks with something in some ways un-American, namely a sense of history. I think it's very important when we talk about crime and when we talk about violence to recognize there is an historical background. And America's a very unique civilization.

American civilization is the frontier, that line of demarcation between so-called civilization and so-called wilderness that allows for a transgression of that line so that by means of violence we become morally regenerated so we can exemplify our heroic efforts and sacrificial actions. So our heroes often times are precisely those who transgress that line, vis-�-vis indigenous peoples.

That the revolution from our beloved Boston, armed guerrillas, the guns, that slavery, Jim Crow, Jane Crow, were institutional systems of terrorism backed up by violence, psychically and physically.

That the history of the working class America, management and labor, is the most violent among modern nations. The strike of 1877, the steel of strike of 1919. Ask the brothers and sisters in Olney, South Carolina in 1934. We've had difficulty being democrats when it comes to mediating our conflicts in non-violent ways.

Even Brother Martin had to ask the question of Stokely Carmichael, why are you are you calling on Negroes to be so violent in Alabama when you're allowing Negroes to be rather violent in Vietnam? And Martin answered after a while.

So there's a sense, in which, as we celebrate what is going on, we must acknowledge that we're part of a longer tradition that's trying to constitute democratic countervailing forces against the deep forms of violence, psychic and physically at work in our particular historical moment.

You know the history of violence against Irish brothers and sisters, against Italian brothers. And of course, my God, the levels of sexual violence inside a family against women, past and present.

These are not simply abstract issues, but they have very, very deep roots in American civilization. And the best of American civilization has simply said, look. Let us be honest about this history. Let us not be captive to the memory, but let us not forget what we're fighting against.

And that's why, for me, any serious talk about security and safety has to take us beyond simply a conception of democracy that's rooted in cupidity as opposed to fraternity. Which is to say we'll never be able to keep a democratic project afloat that has more quality and ethical substance if we cannot relate it to more than simply market driven money taking and profit making.

That may be one element among others. But if we don't talk about a vital and vibrant public for the notion of citizenship that transcends simply market calculation, we're in very, very deep trouble. Very, very deep trouble.

So I begin at the workplace. We can't talk about reconstituting family and community, civic infrastructure, church, mosque, temple, synagogue, unless we talk about those persons who must work, that constitute the economic backbone of their families and communities.

It's very interesting to me these days when I hear the talk about reduction in crime. I'm excited about it on the one hand, but on the other hand, of course, I want to be sure that the criminal justice system is fair so there's not poor people just bearing the social cost again so that the rest of us can walk the streets safely. You want a fair system such that those who engage in acts of injurious harm may be punished, but not simply pushed out and rendered invisible.

We when we talk about the police, brothers and sisters, who at their best secure our safety, we don't really hear a lot of talk of them as working people. We have to deal with their working context so that we can pat them on the back, but we don't talk about doubling their salaries too much.

Oh, they did a wonderful job. Pat them. No, they did a wonderful job. This is a market driven economy. Let's see if we can deliver for them as working people.

Brother Cuomo talked openly about the increasing wealth inequality and income inequality. That's very real. And as working people, be one a police, be one a fireman, be one a construction worker, be one white collar, pink collar, there are certain power dynamics at that workplace that result in that wealth inequality.

Some of us managerial greed, but maybe we can be more charitable in our language. And simply say, there's not enough democratic accountability from the workplace such that working people have power to ensure that when profits go up, their wages go up, too. That is a crucial dimension.

Crime and violence. Why? Because in a democracy, initially founded in money making as well as grand ideals, but the money making becoming more and more predominant, the insecurities and anxieties and frustrations of having do deal with wage stagnation in a time in which so much wealth is being produced, but hemorrhaged at the top creates deep alienation, a sense of marginalization.

And that cuts across race. It cuts across region. It cuts across religion and ethnicity. It's an issue of class and justice in terms of the way in which the wealth is produced, on the one hand, and yet remains hemorrhaged at the top on the other with the most devastating effects on children.

And it's no accident that Japan has percent child poverty and Canada has 9 percent and Germany has 4 percent, but the United States has 20.5 percent of its children living in poverty, the richest nation in the history of the world. Something's wrong in terms of what's going on at the workplace, even given the new levels of productivity.

In addition, the workplace is a crucial site of culture. By culture, I mean the assets to the structures of feelings and structures of meaning that all of us need as we move from womb to tomb, knowing that we all want a little love and care and a little meaning and value as we face inevitable and inescapable extinction of some sort very soon.

Culture, often rooted in family and those communal structures. And we are still witnessing, even given the reduction in crime, of the erosion of the systems of caring and nurturing with devastating impact on young people. Even though we have high levels of material toys, still feel themselves more and more uncared for and unloved, unnurtured.

That's dangerous. It has always been a deeply American problem. You can pick up the poetry of Emily Dickinson and be reminded of that distinctive form of American loneliness.

You can see it in the American Hamlet, namely Blanche Dubois, of the great Tennessee Williams', Streetcar Named Desire, in her quest for intimacy, but finding, in fact, not only her solitude being robbed, but still having no company and having to depend on the kindness of strangers.

It is a profoundly American phenomenon of what Arthur Miller called the disease, the American disease, of unrelatedness. How do we constitute ties of empathy, cores of sympathy, webs of caring and nurturing?

There's no overnight solution. There's no quick fix. No panacea. All we have are countervailing democratic sensibilities, practices, procedures. That's all we have. That's a lot at our best, but that's all we have. To speak to these deeply personal and existential issues that are inseparable from the economic, but not reducible to the economic.

How do we reconstitute family, community, linked to jobs with decent, Slivable wages, linked to parents who are less hedonistic, narcissistic, more caring and nurturing for their children? Are issues of personal responsibility inseparable from the issues of social accountability.

How do we produce fellow citizens who are willing to opt for nonmarket values and sensibilities as well as market driven dispositions and behavior? How much time are we willing to put in for nonmarket purposes?

A sense of service to some higher cause as opposed to our own individual interests do we have. And this is not moralistic rhetoric.

No democracy can survive without nonmarket values like love, care, services, something bigger than you. So that that democracy can be regenerated and revitalized to transmit from one generation to the next the best of what those who came before offer.

And there's no magic wand. All we have is democratic leadership, democratic practices, being willing to accent our memory and our history in such a way that we can provide the grounds for hope and possibility. That's very much what this wonderful public forum is all about.

So when we look at the three fronts, the workplace on the economic front, the cultural front dealing with family, community and civic infrastructure and the political front, we need a call to public service, a kind of moral and spiritual awakening around this nation that accents the role of publicness of citizenship, the glue and cement that hold a democracy together at a moment in which markets are more and more the idols of the time, the fetish of the moment, some magical power that can be invoked and somehow solve the problem.

They are indefensible. Yet, markets are here to stay. They are not to be trashed nor are they to be deified. Just simply instruments to be used for something bigger than them. And that, for me, is the challenge. Thank you all very much.

Discussion

Moderator: The name of this panel is WOW. Was this some presentation or what? There is a lesson, a very subtle lesson, that I posed here today that I want to make sure everyone recognized and acknowledged.

If you ever have to be on the panel with the talent and likes of these individuals, national stars, the trick is to speak first. Because Lord knows you can't follow them. Extraordinary.

Let's get to some questions. We're a little bit behind schedule, but let's get in as many as we can. Please.

Ms. Rice: Hi. My name is Jeannie Rice. I work at the McCulley Institute. We're a national non-profit housing development intermediary, started by the Sisters of Mercy, to work with women and their children to find affordable housing solutions.

And my question's a little long, but bear with me. We cannot talk about violence in our communities without talking about violence in our homes. Domestic violence effects over 6 million women each year in the U.S. alone.

And HUD, non-profit and homeless advocates have known for years that it is one of the leading causes of homelessness for women and their families. Half of our nation's homeless women and children are fleeing domestic violence situations.

In 1994, the Violence Against Women Act was passed and this national legislation has led to a rising awareness of the costs of domestic violence to our society.

Recently, a new bill, VAWA2, was introduced that would reauthorize and enhance the programs initiated by the Violence Against Women Act of 1994. We, at McCulley Institute, see a clear connection between housing and domestic violence and we feel that it is important that VAWA2 include housing language so that victims of domestic violence won't have to choose between continued abuse or guaranteed poverty.

To use the role of federal agencies, other than the Department of Justice to help communities alleviate the incidence of domestic violence.

Speaker: Please.

Speaker: A short answer yes

Speaker: But since we don't give short answers on this panel.

Speaker: The short answer is yes. The issue of domestic violence increasingly, one of the dimensions of the domestic violence things that we've experienced in a lot of work that we do is its impact on children. So that you generate an intergenerational cycle.

So, yes. All of the agencies that directly or indirectly bear upon the lives of women and children need to be challenged and pushed and prodded to be more responsive just very directly.

So the short answer is yes. And the faith communities must be across this country pushed harder. See, your question for me is an easy question in that the short answer is yes.

Now, the more challenging issue, however, is that for federal agencies to be pushed, the institutions of civil society, in this case the faith communities, have to be pushed to be more responsive. The churches, in particular, have to assume a much more aggressive posture with regard to child abuse and domestic violence.

And because too many of the clergy are overwhelmingly males, unfortunately that is an issue that does not get the priority it should. So churches need to be challenged by the larger public sphere to be more responsive and active in raising the issue of domestic violence and its connection to homelessness.

Ms. Rice: Thank you.

Speaker: Commissioner Bratton, if I could do a quick follow-up on that. Does the criminal justice system work for domestic violence, perpetrators of domestic violence?

Commissioner Bratton: We've come a long way. I can remember as a young police officer in Boston working with my predecessor, Police Commissioner Roche, in an inspector car. And the tried and true method back in those days, 1970-71, was to go back and tell the husband to take a walk around the block and that was the end of it.

We've come a long way. We've come now to mandatory arrest policies. We've come to understand that an abused spouse often times is an indicator of abused children. So that when our police go into homes, they look not only to the spouse, but to the children in terms of what's going on there.

We've come a long way. A long way needs to still be traveled to come to some solution to this problem. It is something, however, that the numbers are with us in that we are starting to see improvement in that area.

We are beginning to see acceptance, on the part of police, that this is the role for them. They are the first responders in many instances. In fact, in New York City, we actively sought and encouraged a larger role from police and this issue is something that for 20 years we had run the other way.

Speaker: Thanks. Please.

Ms. May: My name is Ruby May and I work at Children's Defense Fund. My question is two part. You talked a lot about when you gave us the statistics about how crime is gone down and how we've done community policing.

But what strategies are we going to take forth into empowering the people of the community? I understand empowering the religious faith and religious community to go in and help the community, but about empowering the community themselves, about allowing people to exceed the crime and violence in their neighborhoods. And how we're going to approach that strategy towards that?

And also a strategy towards empowering the cycle, the historical cycle of poverty that single mothers are raising their children and those children are continuing that cycle. Is there a strategy towards that as a prevention of crime?

Commissioner Bratton: As a practical matter on your question, there's a simple answer. When you say how do you empower folks? You begin to work with them.

What's happened in Boston, although the clergy were highlighted, is that a broad cross section of people are working. I mean, empowerment is sort of like a buzz word. It can mean something or it can mean nothing. Practically speaking, that means that parents are supported by the institutions of that community to work and raise their children.

Last night, for example, a young mother has a son who got arrested with a gun. How do you empower her? One, she comes and says, look. I need help. I've got a 17 year old that's 6'2" and I'm 5'3". How can you assist me in providing a context for giving my son some direction?

So the practical on the ground planet earth answer is community based organizing, door-by-door, neighborhood-by-neighborhood, working with probation, working with the law enforcement community and essentially educating many of the folk who can't see everyday, don't know the intimacies of the criminal justice system to use that as a practical example.

So a large part of empowering folk is basically doing education work. On the macro issue of overcoming poverty, here again, in most cases that's done on a neighborhood, individual-by-individual, family-by-family basis if, in fact, they are to be empowered to mobilizing their own interest.

I mean, it's very, very specific, very, very basic. I mean, at the grassroots level, going into neighborhoods and doing the tedious work. You know, the unglamorous, the unsexy work of meeting with people who frequently don't show up for their appointments. It's tough work. It's labor intensive. And there's not a metaphysical answer. Hard work, consistency over the long term.

Speaker: Dr. West.

Dr. West: When I talk about democratic leadership, that's really much of what I have in mind. That is by democratic leadership we don't mean the Messianic figures out there who are the pied pipers who are trying to wake up the passive folk. We're talking about everyday, ordinary brothers and sisters across race who themselves are leaders, who are the leaders we've been looking for. That's the democratic sensibility.

Of course, then it becomes how do they become energized and galvanized. And they will not become energized and galvanized, I don't think, if they don't see credible alternatives. Something they believe can actually make a breakthrough in a such a way that enhances their situation.

And the challenge then becomes more democratic leadership, very much like the civil rights movement in the '60s need to be unknown, anonymous folk in Alabama doing something that we had to take notice of.

And its that spirit, I think, that's necessary in the communities across this nation to empower in the way we were just talking about. Please tell Marian Wright Edelman we all said, hello.

Mr. Schwartz: Good evening. My name is Charles Schwartz. I'm from the Investment Housing Authority in Massachusetts. And my question is to Commissioner Bratton. All of us are aware of your excellent reputation as a police professional. But you failed to mention that you've also done some work as a consultant and you're also very knowledgeable in private security.

The reason that I mention this is because you're certainly aware of the many similarities and differences between traditional policing, neighborhood policing and private security.

Now, given these differences, how do you see police responding to the needs of public housing communities in the future? We've already spoken about domestic violence issues. But, then there are other critical issues such as repeat victimization.

Mr. Schwartz: Well, I think, probably, the most direct answer to your question is that we don't perceive public housing as an area of the city or a part of our environment that we see less as potential than other areas in the city.

Reality was, for so many years in this country, not only the police, but government, treated public housing as just that. Something that had to be tolerated, something that had to be isolated and something that would receive often times significantly less service and priority.

That has changed because we've come to recognize, and I'll speak from the police perspective, that those areas need to be treated in some instances with more attention by the police.

In New York City, for example, the merger, the fuel behind the merger of the housing police into the city police was to provide, from my perspective, a better level of service.

Let me give you just one indicator of this fact that they were not getting the service they deserve. If you called 911 in New York City to complain about a drug dealer in your hallway in a public housing development, 911 was controlled by the city police.

The city police policy was that uniform police would not interact on that type of call. It would be referred to the organized crime patrol bureau detectives, highly trained, highly supervised, uniformed police were not trusted for 20 years in New York City to interrupt drug traffic.

So if you're a housing development resident, your call would never be responded to. Why? Because that call would be referred to the city police. The city police didn't go into the housing developments. So if in 20 years in New York City as a housing development resident, if you called about a drug dealer, the call went nowhere.

We came to understand and appreciate that and that was one of the driving forces behind merging housing police and New York City police, to try and improve the level of service in a city area that had been long deprived of adequate services, despite having a highly dedicated, committed police force that worked in that environment.

But that city police force or that specific police force depended on the city police force who were not collaborating.

Mr. Schwartz: Thank you.

Speaker: Thank you. New York City, larger cities, housing authorities often have their own police force. And as the Commissioner refers to the housing police in New York City, they were the police force just for the New York City Housing Authority. Then that got merged into the regular police force. Ma'am.

Ms. Jackson: My name is Mary D. Jackson. I am a Washingtonian. I'm an employee on Capital Hill. I'm a community activist and AEC commissioner and I'm presently the Chairman of Tag Team for Enterprise Community.

Tonight I don't specifically have a question. I want to offer you a challenge. My challenge is that I'm raising five grandchildren, both of my daughters children. The three little brothers that I have, I chose to keep them together.

Now, I'm going to ask you to lobby this judicial system to make things much easier on us grandparents who have to take custody of these children that we should not have to continuously go through all these problems with the judicial system.

My main focus is, I have custody, legal custody of the first two brothers. When I located the third child, I cannot get custody of him because, first, I have to go out in the streets and beat the bushes to find the mother.

Second, they won't reopen the case because this is considered closed. So I'm asking you all to challenge the system that if there's an open case, if there's a case there whether it's open or closed, as long as it's a family, not a separate child, but a family and the exact same mother that that case should be reopened to include that child.

So that I don't have to go, spend more money, get an attorney, time off from my job, hours of assault and injury from the judicial system. Anybody older than I am could not take this.

And a lot of us grandparents, I have a program through the Justice Department called Grandparents on the Move. We have grandparents as old as in their '80s raising three and four and sometimes children younger than that.

So all I'm saying is the challenge I'm throwing to you all is to lobby this system since you want to see families work. Since you want to see family work and families pull together. There are too many of us out there that's taking care of these kids and we have to take second best. I don't even qualify for food stamps because I work. You're not giving me the food stamps. You're giving them to the children.

So there are certain issues that I'd like to sit down with you all and let you all know the pain that a lot of us will not get up here and actually tell you. I'm going to tell you because I have no shame.

And I'm also going to say to Commissioner Bratton I am the mother of a D.C. police officer, one of the nation's finest. And I'd like to know what you plan on doing to change the image of police officers through this police, what do you call it? Community police.

The image is so rotten that I hear it all the time being in the community. But I have to come home and bite my tongue because my son may be visiting or he's sitting there. And I don't want to have to do anything to hurt his feelings because he chose to put that badge on.

So I'd like to see you all do something to change that image to make sure that our officers get the respect that they deserve.

Speaker: You're one of the unsung heroes in our society, committed to serving dedicated to that way.

Very much what the book that was mentioned, the book that was just recently published, The War Against Parents, which accents precisely what you're talking about, an international parenting association in New York City. We do have grandparents playing a very important role as well as men and women.

But secondly, again back to the police, on the one hand, I think we have to be very honest in what Brother Bratton talked about. The reasons why the police, especially in chocolate cities, have such a negative image. It's not a claim about every police person, man or woman, but the history of the race of violence, going back to the whip, the lynching and slavery still carries through.

The police, one could argue, are no less racist than any other sector of our society, but they have certain things that some other members don't have, authority and force. That goes with the guns, too. Even though we've got a lot of non-police gun toting folks. That's part of the problem, too, but that's another issue.

But for me, the issue becomes the respect of something that is earned and the shift that will take place and it is taking place in many instances, the community police, will take place when the perception shift.

And one of the points that I was making was, I think it's very important to talk openly about incentives in the police department that accent anti-racist sensibility actions. That is to say, it's not a question simply of patting them on the back. They're risking their lives everyday.

And in a money obsessed society, when are we going to allow them to be recognized for the service they provide, especially when they're cutting against the larger grain, given the historical backdrop of racism. So that they see anti-racist action sensibility in behavior of police becomes a material incentive as well as a moral one.

What kind of reward structures do we have built in that allow for no more nigger jokes? That serve as the under towing dark side that constitutes so much of the fraternizing in too many places, not just the police, but in the workplace.

So these are the kinds of things that we have to talk about openly if we're going to change that image in a pervasive way, even though I think it's also true there is a slow shift that is taking place.

Speaker: One other dimension of this, I think Cornell is absolutely correct on this. And the supplement to that in terms of transforming the image of law enforcement has to do with what the men in these communities do.

Let me explain what I mean on this point. When a generation of kids run wild, and I want to connect this to the history, a generation of young kids running wild, unsupervised, unsupervised they develop gangs as maladaptive responses to the absence of proper mechanisms of socialization.

It creates a real tension with law enforcement. I didn't really get hip to this until I actually spent some time on the street and experienced how difficult it is. In Boston, you're an Irish Catholic young officer. You just got out of the academy. You're trying to do your job, pay your mortgage and pay for that first baby you have.

And here you are in the neighborhood with a bunch of young people who, when the lights go out, know all the cuts in the neighborhood. And you have to be not only law enforcer but social worker. It's a real interesting strain.

And I think that one of the things that's part of transforming the image of law enforcement is that there's got to be an equally open discussion about the fact that in too many instances the men of too many neighborhoods are AWOL. Say amen somebody.

No, there are too many men are AWOL, not providing the appropriate institutional context for socializing a generation of young males. And we have to deal with that.

In other words, I can't expect a man to do law enforcement, social work, breast feed the boy, pat him on the head and mamma, too. No, sorry, I can't do that. That's not part of the job description.

So the communities have to meet the law enforcement community halfway, in that, the churches in particular, since we insist on being spiritual leaders, have to be much more responsive and work with law enforcement. Because when that happens, we can take some of the edge off the racism.

In other words, a clergy person more actively involved can check a hyperactive cop who just got a predilection to put a nightstick upside a brother's head. And if push comes to shove, I can get that man's job.

But like the drug dealer said, I've got to be there. If I'm not available, I can't be a check or balance. So that has to be part of a way of supplementing the point which I think Cornell made which is very, very important.

SpeakerThis is going to have to be the last question because we've run well over time. I'm sorry. I know we could be here all night with this audience and this panel. Sir.

Mr. Foxworth: My name is Rodney Foxworth and I'm here wearing two hats. I'm a project manager for the National League of Cities. So I work on these kinds of issues from the national perspective.

My other hat, though, is as community activist. I lived in Boston and actually lived in Eugene's neighborhood for about 17 years and I was there when Commissioner Bratton started his community policing program.

The environment of that neighborhood fostered a partnership between residents, community based organizations and nonprofits. And it was that partnership that allowed some things to happen. We were sort of used as the model neighborhood for the Boston community policing program.

I moved to Washington 2 1/2 years ago and I find a really wide chasm between nonprofits, community residents and the city or the government agencies and the police included.

And so what I'd like to do is hear some thoughts, and I live in the Shaw neighborhood which is a community right beside downtown. What I'd like to hear is some thoughts on what about this partnership, between residents, community based organizations, particularly nonprofits?

The church is included in that. And the police sort of bring about a sense of community and community development and neighborhood change.

Speaker: What's the question?

Mr. Foxworth: The crux of the issue that I've benefitted from an experience in Boston where residents sort of dictated what happened and the nonprofits and community based organizations and the police and the city fell in line.

Well, now I'm in Washington and it's a totally different dynamic. And there seems to be a significant disconnect between residents, community based organizations who get paid to provide services to your neighborhoods and the police, to a certain extent, and certainly city government. So I'd like to hear some thoughts about that.

Speaker: Two things. Rodney, as you know from your own experience in Dorchester, that as a result of the kind of work that you did, I mean, we did meetings 7:30 every Tuesday morning, weekly, neighborhood council. That kind of work has to be initiated by the residents.

See, some of this, I mean, as the Secretary said, some of this we in the communities have to do. In the District, there have to be individuals, this goes back to this young lady's question about empowering communities. Folk got to take initiative. Freedom ain't free. Safety ain't free. And ain't nobody else going to free you.

So not until we take the initiative, frankly, to get sick and tired of being sick and tired, are we going to be able to transform anything. And that's ultimately on us.

Look, when my house got shot at to in 91, I got sick and tired of being sick and tired and it was home. And so we began to organize. The same thing has to happen here in the District. And it's really on the community.

We can't blame nobody else, can't blame the mayor, can't blame the President. Ain't got nothing to do with that. I've got to get up off my duff and decide to meet and do it as long as we have to do it until you get a critical mass of individuals who then will determine that they're going to make things happen. And that's ultimately on us.

Speaker: That's going to have to be the last question, I'm sorry. Once again a round of applause for this panel. They really give us a cause. Commissioner Bratton said he was the third part of the trilogy and he was the voice of optimism. I think after tonight's discussion, we're all optimists that we're finally going to do something about this problem. Thank you very much.

 

Content Archived: April 15, 2011

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