Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta discussed some of the challenges of contemporary policing and efforts of the US Department of Justice at a recent program at the Law School.
Gupta, the third-ranking official at the US Department of Justice and the former head of its Civil Rights Division, offered her insights in a conversation with Professor from Practice Sharon R. Fairley. Thomas J. Miles, Dean and Clifton R. Musser Professor of Law and Economics, delivered the introductory remarks for the hour-long program, held on June 8 as part of the 2023 Law of Policing Conference hosted at the Law School.
Gupta sought to dispel the misconception that constitutional policing is somehow at odds with police departments’ ability to fight crime.
“The core foundation of fighting violent crime has to be built on police-community trust, and where you don’t have that, you can’t fight violent crime effectively.”Vanita GuptaAssociate Attorney General
“The core foundation of fighting violent crime has to be built on police-community trust, and where you don’t have that, you can’t fight violent crime effectively,” she said.
Gupta also observed that law enforcement officers cannot solve the problem of violent crime alone. “Community leaders need to play a role in keeping communities safe and in being co-creators of public safety,” she said.
Some communities begin community violence intervention (CVI) programs to address violent crime, but may struggle without federal funding and support, Gupta noted. Last year, $100 million in federal funds were approved to assist with these programs, and another $100 million has been allocated for the next year, she continued.
“This is not just to fund the big national organizations,” Gupta said. “Frankly, CVI is most effective at the micro level because local community leaders who have been involved in this have tremendous credibility.”
Gupta pointed to President Biden’s May 2022 Executive Order to Advance Effective, Accountable Policing and Strengthen Public Safety as a major boost in federal efforts to improve policing accountability and standards.
Key provisions of the order include:
- Creating a new national database of police misconduct
- Requiring new standards for accreditation of law enforcement agencies and for accrediting bodies
- Tracking data on use of force incidents, and
- Studying the impact of use of force incidents on communities.
“[The Executive Order] has 92 deliverables for the Justice Department, and I think it has gotten a lot less play [in the media] than it deserves,” Gupta said.
However, Gupta was also quick to point out that there is no “silver bullet” to fix all the issues pertaining to policing. “This is part of our challenge,” she said.