Friday, 13 February 2009

Policing American Cities Fairly - time for some trans-Atlantic urban exchanges?

My initial focus in the urban renewal agenda is equal opportunities. This is an area where UK campaigners sometimes look to the U.S. and think they're doing a better job over there. Now with our first Black President, many people are even more convinced. I'm not going to get into that debate. I will say, though, that the President has set out a robust civil rights agenda. With this post, I quickly want to draw attention to one area where U.S. policy-makers and representatives from urban police forces could do with an exchange with folks from London and other major British cities: racial profiling (known in the UK as 'stop and search'). President Obama co-sponsored federal legislation proposals on this and passed Illinois legislation requiring the Department of Transport to record the race, age, and gender of all drivers stopped for traffic violations so that bias could be detected and addressed. Effective implementation and follow up, where bias is detected, will be important in building confidence among all urban-dwellers that they are being treated fairly and that public services are working for them, rather than against them.

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