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Racial Equity and Justice Commission convenes for first meeting

(KWCH)
Published: Jul. 10, 2020 at 4:38 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Governor Kelly’s Commission on Racial Equity and Justice convene for its first meeting.

Governor Laura Kelly says her Commission on Racial Equity and Justice met for its first meeting on Thursday, July 9. She says the Commission began with introductory remarks from herself.

“This is not the first time a group like this has been convened to discuss the structural inequalities that exist in our country,” Governor Laura Kelly said. “But I believe this national moment has provided the Commission on Racial Equity and Justice, and the state of Kansas an opportunity to have an honest and informed conversation about the work that must be done.”

Kelly says the meeting was led by co-chairs Dr. Tiffany Anderson, Superintendent of Topeka Public Schools USD 501, and Dr. Shannon Portillo, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs KU Edwards Campus & School of Professional Studies. They discussed the structure, schedule and priority goals of the Commission.

“We had a robust discussion in our first meeting, outlining areas for inquiry and listening sessions,” Dr. Shannon Portillo, said. “I am looking forward to engaging with our community listening sessions, and ultimately developing a report for Governor Kelly’s administration to take action on.”

Kelly says the Commission plans to meet every other week on Thursday from 3 p.m. - 5 p.m. The next meeting is scheduled for July 23, at 3 p.m. The meetings will continue to be held virtually and streamed on Governor Laura Kelly’s YouTube page.

Governor Kelly says she tasked the Commission with focusing their work first on law enforcement and policing in the state. Commission members say they discussed the following topics for the initial focus of their work:

  • Kansas Law Enforcement Training Center (KLETC)
  • The Kansas Commission on Peace Officers’ Standards and Training (KSCPOST)
  • Former Commissions and reports (Federal & Local)
    • The President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing
    • Forward Through Ferguson Police Reform
    • Kerner Commission
    • Other Kansas-specific reports
  • School resource officers and policing in schools
  • Bail bonds
  • K-9 officers and dispute resolution
  • Qualified immunity
  • Corrections officers
  • Recruitment, hiring, and decertification practices
  • Police misconduct records
  • Police unions and contract negotiations
  • Officer Residency requirements
  • Social determinants of health in prisons
  • Debtors’ prisons

Commission members say they discussed methods of collecting data and reports.

The National Governors Association, Governor’s staff and stakeholders say they will be facilitating data and research for the work of the Commission.

“Engaging with the public throughout the course of these meetings will be crucial to crafting recommendations and policies that are specific to Kansas, and to amplifying as many voices throughout the community as possible,” Governor Laura Kelly said.

The Commission says it plans to hold a number of virtual listening sessions with stakeholders and communities across the state which includes but is not limited to:

  • Public Defenders
  • Law Enforcement
  • Community members who have engaged with the criminal justice system
  • Spanish and other non-English-speaking communities
  • Immigrant and refugee communities

The Commission says to engage with the public it will be providing an email address, mailing address, constituent services line and Twitter hashtag (#KansasCREJ).

Thursday, July 9′s Commission meeting can be viewed here.

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