Executive Order 00-03
April 6, 2000
RHODE ISLAND SELECT COMMISSION ON RACE AND POLICE-COMMUNITY RELATIONS
WHEREAS, Sergeant Cornel Young, Jr., a respected African American Providence police officer, died violently and tragically when shot by fellow Providence Police officers; and
WHEREAS, the death of Sergeant Young, Jr. has brought to the forefront long-simmering and very serious problems within our communities regarding racial strife and the tenuous relationship between Rhode Island citizens of color and local and state law enforcement officers; and
WHEREAS, the death of Sergeant Young, Jr. and other issues related to this tragedy have caused a crisis of confidence, raising serious questions about unfair treatment of certain groups of individuals, oppression and the combination of growing fear and anger within our communities; and
WHEREAS, the State of Rhode Island values and cherishes the rich cultural diversity of all Rhode Islanders and is committed to providing all people in the State equal and full protection and respectful treatment; and
WHEREAS, State government leaders are concerned that racial problems, if unattended, will affect the future of Rhode Island, negatively impacting its quality of life and tainting and eventually destroying all that this State stands for; and
WHEREAS, State government leaders understand that racial injustice is a problem for all Rhode Islanders, and acknowledge the necessity of improving police-community relations; and
WHEREAS, the Governor, the Attorney General, the Speaker of the House, the Senate Majority Leader and community leaders have met in the aftermath of the tragic death of Sergeant Cornel Young, Jr.; and
WHEREAS, State government leaders have participated in and encouraged open dialogue and the development of a working partnership with community members to plan solutions for meeting the challenges of racial issues; and
WHEREAS, the State of Rhode Island has responded to the call from citizens for an independent commission to examine issues arising from the shooting death of Sergeant Cornel Young, Jr., related racial problems and police -community relations; and
NOW, THEREFORE, I, Lincoln Almond, by virtue of the authority vested in me as Governor of the State of Rhode Island do hereby order as follows:
1. The Rhode Island Select Commission on Race and Police-Community Relations is hereby established. The Commission is charged with conducting an inquiry into the causes of racial problems, concerns, and issues related to police-community relations.
2. The Commission shall consist of fifteen (15) members. The Governor shall appoint thirteen (13) members and two (2) members shall be appointed by the General Assembly. The Governor shall appoint the chair, co-chairs, or vice-chairs of the Commission. The composition of the Commission shall be: one (1) member as chair; five (5) members of the interfaith/civic community; four (4) members of the law enforcement community; three (3) members at-large; one (1) member from the House of Representatives appointed by the Speaker of the House; and one (1) member from the Senate appointed by the Senate Majority Leader.
3. The Commission shall:
a) independently review the issues surfacing from the shooting death of Sergeant Cornel Young, Jr.; including but not limited to impacts of investigations into that tragedy;
b) analyze police-community relations in Rhode Island, and make specific recommendations for their improvement;
c) study and recommend changes needed to statutes, ordinances, institutional policies, procedures and practices deemed necessary to:
i) improve law enforcement work and accountability;
ii) reduce racism;
iii) enhance the administration of justice;
iv) affect reconciliation between diverse segments of the statewide community.
4. The Commission shall have the authority to hold hearings as necessary to request and review any public information the Commission deems necessary for its work, including the review of any public information, documents and testimony related to the investigation of the death of Sergeant Cornel Young, Jr.
5. All Rhode Island state departments shall provide all necessary and appropriate assistance and cooperation to the Commission as it endeavors to complete its mission.
6. Parties outside of Rhode Island state government are strongly encouraged to provide the Commission with necessary and appropriate assistance and cooperation that will allow the Commission to complete its work.
7. The Commission may request legal subpoena powers from the General Assembly, affording the Commission authority to call any witness deemed necessary.
8. The responsibilities of the Commission shall include, but not be limited to reviewing and recommending changes that significantly improve current police policies, procedures and practices related to:
a) recruitment, hiring and training of police officers;
b) the level and quality of diversity training, sensitivity awareness and cultural competency;
c) the level and quality of efforts related to building and improving overall community relations;
d) the use of firearms by on-duty and off-duty police officers;
e) the use of excessive force;
f) the use of racial profiling; and
g) legislation reforming police policies, procedures or community relations.
9. Within 30-days of member appointments, the Commission will produce and submit a detailed budget request to the Rhode Island General Assembly; and
10. The Commission shall have the authority to contract for services, conduct surveys, studies and analyses consistent with its mission and budget, as approved by the Rhode Island General Assembly. Subcommittees of the Commission may be appointed by the Commission as necessary to carry out its mission.
11. The Commission shall issue findings and recommendations and make a final report to the people of Rhode Island, the Governor, the Senate Majority Leader, the Speaker of the House, and other public officials and agencies as deemed appropriate. The Commission, at its discretion, may also issue any interim reports deemed necessary. Further, the Commission shall have the authority to determine and recommend procedures necessary to track implementation of its recommendations.
12. The Commission's final report shall be submitted to the Governor and the General Assembly no later than May 1, 2001 and the Commission shall cease to function on May 31, 2001 unless its mission and work is extended by the Governor for valid and appropriate reasons.