The KY Council of Churches was one of the signees on this letter calling for policing reform. The letter was sent to Senate leaders Mitch McConnell and Harry Reid, and House leaders Paul Ryan and Nancy Pelosi.
RE: Interfaith Coalition Urges Immediate Steps to Mend Divisions between Communities and Law Enforcement
Dear Majority Leader McConnell, Speaker Ryan and Minority Leaders Reid and Pelosi:
Mourning the crisis of violence in the United States and recognizing that last week’s terrifying shootings in Baton Rouge, Falcon Heights and Dallas are yet another reminder of the great harm caused by unaddressed racial injustices and divisions in America, the undersigned faith organizations join in prayer for healing, love and accountability. As we continue to promote civil dialogue and work to heal community divisions, we also recognize that your leadership is critical to addressing the monumental crisis of racial injustice that has plagued this nation since its inception.
According to data compiled by The Washington Post1 , 990 fatal police shootings occurred in 2015. Surprisingly, reports from the Federal Bureau of Investigation have never counted more than 460 police shootings in a single year. Addressing this shocking data disparity is a crucial first step to understanding the extent of excessive use of force by police, and therefore we seek your support for the Law Enforcement Trust and Integrity Act of 2015 (S. 2168/H.R. 2875).The bill would require law enforcement to report data on traffic and pedestrian stops, frisk and body searches, and use of deadly force, including demographic details such as race, ethnicity, age and gender. The legislation would also provide accreditation, training and funding to law enforcement to implement best practice pilot programs.
Our organizations also urge your support for the End Racial Profiling Act (S. 1056 /H.R. 1933) to prohibit racial profiling by law enforcement and to support data collection on its prevalence. Nationwide surveys indicate that during traffic stops, black and Hispanic drivers are three times more likely than white drivers to be searched by police. Black drivers are also twice as likely as white drivers to be arrested during a traffic stop despite the fact that police generally have lower “contraband hit rates” when they search black versus white drivers. Additional studies conducted between 2002 and 2008 have shown Hispanic Americans were up to twice as likely and black Americans up to three times as likely as white Americans to experience physical force or the threat of force when encountering police.2
We now know that these acts of racial profiling can have deadly consequences. The Washington Post’s research3 found black Americans are 2.5 times as likely as white Americans to be shot and killed by police officers. In 2015, 40 percent of police shootings of unarmed men involved black victims, even though black males comprise just 6 percent of the population. Sadly, these disturbing trends are emblematic of the racial disparities that exist at every stage of the justice system, including the federal criminal justice system.
As an interfaith community, we are guided by our traditions’ foundational principles of equality, respect, love and mercy for all people, and we are committed to addressing the United States’ deep racial divisions and their consequences. We deplore violent attacks on law enforcement and desire constructive cooperation among all community stakeholders. We hope that Congress will lead the nation in this necessary endeavor to advance justice reforms that build trust between law enforcement and local communities, protect human life, and ensure equality and proportionality. Your work is vitally important and we are eager to engage with you to accomplish these objectives.
Alliance of Baptists, American Baptist Home Mission Societies Bread for the World, Brooklyn Zen Center, California Council of Churches IMPACT, Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, Church of the Brethren, Church of Scientology National Affairs Office, Clear Vision Project, Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach, Conference of Major Superiors of Men, The Dharma Foundation, Disciples Justice Action Network, East Bay Meditation Center, Faith Action Network – Washington State, Franciscan Action Network, Friends Committee on National Legislation, Higashi Honganji Buddhist Temple, Insight Community of the Desert, Insight Meditation Community of Washington, Interfaith Action for Human Rights, International Center of Chinese Buddhist Culture and Education, USA, Islamic Society of North America, Office for Interfaith & Community Alliances, Jewish Council for Public Affairs, Kentucky Council of Churches, Mennonite Central Committee U.S. Washington Office, Mindful Meditation Community of Charlotte, National Council of Churches, National Council of Jewish Women, National Council of Jewish Women California, State Policy Advocates National Council of Jewish Women, Essex County Section, National Council of Jewish Women, Illinois State Policy Advocacy Network, National Council of Jewish Women, Los Angeles Section, National Council of Jewish Women, Minnesota Section, National Council of Jewish Women, New Orleans Section, National Council of Jewish Women, South Cook Section, NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice, New York Insight Meditation Center, Pax Christi International, Pax Christi USA, Presbyterian Church (USA), Rhode Island State Council of Churches, Sisters of Mercy of the Americas – Institute Justice Team, Sojourners, Spirit Rock Meditation Center, T'ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights, Union for Reform Judaism, Unitarian Universalist Association, Unitarian Universalist Service Committee, United Church of Christ Justice and Witness Ministries, United Methodist Church General Board of Church and Society, Virginia Council of Churches
- 1 https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/national/police-shootings/
- 2 http://www.sentencingproject.org/publications/race-and-punishment-racial-perceptions-of-crime-and-supportfor-punitive-policies/
- 3 https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2016/07/11/arent-more-white-people-than-blackpeople-killed-by-police-yes-but-no/?utm_term=.4e61cd3b0828