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WASHINGTON, D.C. — Richmond County Sheriff James Clemmons has been named a member of the Presidential Commission on Law Enforcement and the Administration of Justice, Attorney General William Barr announced Wednesday.
President Donald Trump signed an executive order on Oct. 28, 2019 giving Barr the authority to create the commission to “explore modern issues affecting law enforcement that most impact the ability of American policing to reduce crime.” The commissioners will produce a report following a series of hearings, panel presentations, field visits, and other public meetings.
The commission will hear from experts, public officials, private citizens, and other relevant stakeholders and institutions who can provide insight into these issues. The executive order dictates that the commission focus on law enforcement officers who are “tasked with reducing crime on a daily basis,” according to the attorney general’s office.
“It’s a humbling experience to be asked to be part of such a distinguished group to look at issues that affect law enforcement today,” Clemmons said after his swearing in ceremony in D.C. He did not meet the president.
Clemmons said he was recommended for the position about a month ago by United States Attorney for the Middle District of North Carolina Matthew G.T. Martin and Director of the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation Bob Schurmeier. The Commission will meet monthly for the next year, beginning in February, and then report its findings to Barr, who will then submit a final report to the President.
The White House recommended the following subjects of the study:
• The challenges to law enforcement associated with mental illness, homelessness, substance abuse, and other social factors that influence crime and strain criminal justice resources;
• The recruitment, hiring, training, and retention of law enforcement officers, including in rural and tribal communities;
• Refusals by State and local prosecutors to enforce laws or prosecute categories of crimes;
• The need to promote public confidence and respect for the law and law enforcement officers; and
• The effects of technological innovations on law enforcement and the criminal justice system, including the challenges and opportunities presented by such innovations.
Clemmons said that issues he will raise as a member of the commission will include challenges stemming from the implementation of the recent Raise the Age law in North Carolina, which mandates that 16 and 17-year-olds no longer be automatically charged as adults.
He said the issues of recruiting and maintaining quality officers, promoting respect for police, police health and wellness and the social issues that contribute to crime are things that all law enforcement agencies should be concerned with. On promoting respect for law enforcement, Clemmons said, “In order for law enforcement to have respect, officers must have respect for the community also.”
Clemmons said he has met several of the other members of the commission, including Fayetteville Chief of Police Gina Hawkins, Shelby County Sheriff John Samaniego of Alabama, and Pinellas County Sheriff Robert Gualtieri of Florida.
The other commissioners include:
• Chair: Phil Keith, Director, Community Oriented Policing Services
• Vice-Chair: Katharine Sullivan, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General, Office of Justice Programs
• David Bowdich, Deputy Director, Federal Bureau of Investigation
• Donald Washington, Director, United States Marshals Services
• Regina Lombardo, Acting Director, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives
• Erica Macdonald, United States Attorney, District Of Minnesota
• D. Christopher Evans, Chief of Operations, Drug Enforcement Administration
• Frederick Frazier, City Council, McKinney, Texas/ Police Officer, Dallas Police Department
• Ashley Moody, Florida Attorney General
• Nancy Parr, Commonwealth’s Attorney, Chesapeake, Virginia
• Craig Price, South Dakota Secretary of Public Safety
• Gordon Ramsay, Chief of Police, Wichita, Kansas
• David B. Rausch, Director, Tennessee Bureau of Investigation
• James Smallwood, Police Officer, Nashville Metropolitan Police Department
“There is no more noble and important profession than law enforcement. A free and safe society requires a trusted and capable police force to safeguard our rights to life and liberty,” Barr said in a press release. “But as criminal threats and social conditions have changed the responsibilities and roles of police officers, there is a need for a modern study of how law enforcement can best protect and serve American communities. This is why the President instructed me to establish this critical Commission, whose members truly reflect the best there is in law enforcement. Together, we will examine, discuss, and debate how justice is administered in the United States and uncover opportunities for progress, improvement, and innovation.”