Mar. 18, 2021
TO THE EDITOR:
I am writing in response to a recent editorial “Sunshine Week Highlight contrast in Public Trust”. The authors write in support of greater transparency in law enforcement – a goal the Task Force on Racial Equity wholeheartedly shares. However, the authors inaccurately suggested that Attorney General Stein, who co-chairs the Task Force, has recommended legislation that would make a database that analyzes law enforcement use of force incidents a secret.
I have confirmed with bill sponsors that S300 was written in response to an array of needed criminal justice reforms and Attorney General Stein was not involved in drafting nor did he approach Sponsors to file it with the existing language. Neither the bill sponsors nor Attorney General Stein or anyone at the Department of Justice were contacted for comment.
It is also noteworthy that S300 does not make anything confidential that is currently public. It simply states that information currently confidential will remain confidential.
In fact, the Task Force specifically recommended that both the decertification (recommendation #43) and the use of force database (recommendation # 35) be created and made public. TREC did so to prevent the problem of the so-called wandering officer. That is, tracking use of force incidents will prevent officers with a history of inappropriate use of force incidents from going from town to town and job to job. Likewise, a use of force database will help all North Carolinians understand more about the important issue of how and when force is used in North Carolina.
We are committed to working alongside the legislature and law enforcement to ensure that North Carolina’s officers are held to the highest standards. We are encouraged by recently filed legislation that works to make our criminal justice system fairer to everyone. Transparency and public scrutiny make our state safer and stronger and we will continue our work to achieve these goals.
Conservatives for Criminal Justice Reform