Policing in the 21st Century 

ALBANY, N.Y. (March 31, 2017) – Laurie O. Robinson, who co-chaired a White House Task Force on how to build greater trust between police and communities in the wake of the shooting in Ferguson, Missouri, will give a talk on 21st Century Policing on Monday, April 3, at 3:30 p.m. in the Campus Center Ballroom.
Laurie O. Robinson

Laurie Robinson was named to co-chair the White House Task Force on 21st Century Policing by former President Obama in 2014.    

“Some of the most important things we can do to build trust between police and citizens are to embrace fair, impartial and respectful policing — a listening approach — as they work with communities,” Robinson said in a recent phone conversation. “And second, adopt a philosophy of community policing that rests on co-producing public safety with the community as a joint enterprise — agreeing on the problems to be addressed and the strategies to be utilized.”

Robinson is the Clarence J. Robinson Professor of Criminology, Law and Society at George Mason University (GMU). She teaches in both the Honors College and Department of Criminology, Law and Society at GMU, and has been involved in national criminal justice policy for more than three decades. Her talk is presented by the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, Student Association, Office of Student Affairs and the Conversations for Change Committee.

Chief Diversity Officer and Assistant Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion Tamra Minor said, “We are very honored to welcome Professor Robinson to UAlbany to address this timely topic of policing and the campus community. Her expertise and experience working with law enforcement and criminal justice to create more peaceful and trusting relationships with communities serves as a model for what we strive to achieve here at the University to create a more welcoming and inclusive climate.”

At former President Obama’s request, Robinson co-chaired the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing, which delivered an interim report to the president in March 2015 containing 59 recommendations. At Monday’s event, Robinson will discuss the national report, and University Police Department Chief Frank Wiley will talk about how UPD analyzed its practices in light of the report and made modifications to be more consistent with its recommendations.

“I have been struck by the tremendous interest in the 21st Century Policing report around the country and the way police departments of every size have embraced the report,” Robinson said. “And it was exciting to see that Chief Wiley and the UPD here at UAlbany have not only focused on these recommendations but have already implemented many of them.”

In 2014 Robinson was named to the Colson Task Force on Federal Corrections, created by Congress and charged with examining severe overcrowding in the federal prison system. And in 2016, she was named to an independent commission chaired by former New York State Chief Judge Jonathan Lippmann to explore the potential for closing the city’s jail complex on Riker’s Island.

A former assistant attorney general under Presidents Clinton and Obama, Robinson headed the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Justice Programs from November 2009 to February 2012. There she headed the Justice Department’s research, statistics and state and local criminal justice funding arm, managing an annual budget of more than $2.5 billion and 800 personnel. Her tenure was marked by a focus on science: She set up a Science Advisory Board, launched an initiative to better integrate evidence into OJP programs, and created a “what works” clearinghouse for the criminal justice field.

Among her priorities for the agency were rebuilding strong relationships with the law enforcement community and other parts of the criminal justice field, as well as rigorous oversight of grants management. She oversaw major agency work on prisoner reentry into society, children exposed to violence, neighborhood revitalization and youth violence.

Between her stints at DOJ, Robinson directed the University of Pennsylvania’s Master of Science Program in Criminology and served as a Distinguished Senior Scholar in Penn’s Jerry Lee Center of Criminology.

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