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Thursday, January 28, 2021

Governor Laura Kelly’s Commission on Racial Equity and Justice Releases Recommendations

TOPEKA –Governor Laura Kelly today announced that her Commission on Racial Equity and Justice has released to the public their initial report on law enforcement and policing in Kansas.

In June of 2020, Governor Laura Kelly signed Executive Order No. 20-48, establishing the Governor’s Commission on Racial Equity and Justice. The Commission was tasked with studying issues of racial equity and justice in Kansas. It began its work focusing on law enforcement and policing.

“I’m proud to see that the Commission has engaged with so many diverse communities and stakeholder groups across Kansas to compile recommendations that get to the heart of these issues,” Governor Laura Kelly said. “I implore legislators and law enforcement agencies across the state to take a close look at these recommendations and see how they can create real change for the communities they serve.”  

The governor appointed a diverse group of professionals from law enforcement, academia, public education, public health, local government, the justice system, and more to spearhead the Commission’s work. Over the past five months, the Commission met with dozens of stakeholders, community members, and law enforcement professionals across the state and collected input for recommendations on improving law enforcement interactions with the communities they serve.

The Commission, led by co-chairs Dr. Tiffany Anderson and Dr. Shannon Portillo, held five months of bi-weekly meetings and hosted 26 learning sessions with community members and stakeholders.

“We are thankful for the hundreds of community members, law enforcement professionals, and all those who took the time to candidly and selflessly present their ideas and expertise to help lead us to become a more equitable state,” said the co-chairs. “Through the many hours of virtual meetings, we have learned how dedicated so many fellow Kansans are to do what it takes to create a safer, more trusting, and more inclusive environment for all. Our work was given deeper meaning and value through their participation and recommendations.”

Last week, the Commission submitted to the Governor a report with more than 60 recommendations on ways that state agencies, the legislature, and local governments can take action to improve racial equity around law enforcement and policing in the state of Kansas. The recommendations address topics including law enforcement training, accountability, data collection, and behavioral health.

The Commission will convene today, Thursday, December 10, 2020, to discuss future topics of study. Commissioners will analyze racial equity and justice in the context of various systems in Kansas, such as mental health, education, housing, and economic opportunity. Per Executive Order No. 20-48, the Commission is tasked with submitting to the governor a second report by July 1, 2021, and a final comprehensive report by January 1, 2022.

Read the full report here.

See a summary of the report recommendations here.

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