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Local attorney named to Obama’s policing panel

LOS ANGELES – Constance Rice, a civil rights attorney who served on the review panel that investigated the Los Angeles Police Department’s Rampart Division corruption scandal, was among 11 people chosen by President Barack Obama to serve on a Task Force on 21st Century Policing.
The task force was created in part in response to recent tension and protests that broke out across the country after grand juries failed to indict two white police officers in the police killings of unarmed black men in New York and in Ferguson, Missouri.
The committee, which Obama created by executive order, is being billed as an effort to strengthen community policing and bolster trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve. Chaired by Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey, the panel includes community activists, youth leaders and academics.
“These fine public servants bring both a depth of experience and tremendous dedication to their new roles,” Obama said. “Our nation will be well-served by these men and women, and I look forward to working with them in the months and years to come.”
Obama said the task force will examine how to strengthen public trust and foster strong police-community relationships. It also will promote effective crime reduction, he said.
The committee will convene listening sessions where members will hear testimony — including proposed recommendations for consideration — from invited witnesses and also receive comments and questions from the public. The first session will be held in Washington, D.C. in mid-January. Other such sessions are being scheduled.
Obama asked the group to prepare an initial report with recommendations by March.
Rice, meanwhile, is widely considered to be an ideal selection for the committee.
She began working with the NAACP Legal Defense Fund in 1991, and became co-director of its Los Angeles office in 1996. Three years later, she co-founded the Advancement Project civil rights organization.
As an attorney, she filed cases that resulted in mandates for improved bus service and increased school-construction spending in low-income communities.
She was chosen by then-LAPD Chief Bill Bratton to sit on the Blue Ribbon
Rampart Review panel.
She also conducted a review of the city’s anti-gang programs, and more recently took part in the LAPD’s review of the firing of Officer Christopher Dorner, who claimed he was wrongly terminated and went on a killing spree that ended with his death in a San Bernardino County cabin.

City News Service contributed to this report.

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