Wednesday, 22 January 2020 17:49

Clemmons appointed to federal law enforcement commission

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Richmond County Sheriff James Clemmons, along with 17 other members of the justice community, are sworn in to the Presidential Commission on Law Enforcement and the Administration of Justice on Wednesday. Richmond County Sheriff James Clemmons, along with 17 other members of the justice community, are sworn in to the Presidential Commission on Law Enforcement and the Administration of Justice on Wednesday. Contributed photo

WASHINGTON — Sheriff James Clemmons will be spending one day a month in the nation’s capital after being appointed to a federal commission.

U.S. Attorney General William B. Barr announced Wednesday the formation of the Presidential Commission on Law Enforcement and the Administration of Justice.

According to a press release from the U.S. Department of Justice, President Donald Trump signed Executive Order No. 13896 last October, which directs the AG to establish a commission “that would explore modern issues affecting law enforcement that most impact the ability of American policing to reduce crime.”

“There is no more noble and important profession than law enforcement. A free and safe society requires a trusted and capable police force to safeguard our rights to life and liberty,” Barr said in a statement. “But as criminal threats and social conditions have changed the responsibilities and roles of police officers, there is a need for a modern study of how law enforcement can best protect and serve American communities. 

“This is why the President instructed me to establish this critical Commission, whose members truly reflect the best there is in law enforcement. Together, we will examine, discuss, and debate how justice is administered in the United States and uncover opportunities for progress, improvement, and innovation.”

Clemmons is one of 18 members of the commission — comprised of urban police chiefs, state prosecutors, county sheriffs, members of rural law enforcement, federal agents, U.S. Attorneys, and a state attorney general — which also includes Fayetteville Police Chief Gina Hawkins.

“It’s just a humbling experience just to be considered for an opportunity such as this,” Clemmons said after being sworn in.

Not only will he be serving Richmond County and North Carolina, but also law officers across the country, “as we look forward to … move law enforcement into the future and foster good relationships throughout our community.”

When it comes to the public’s respect for law enforcement officers, Clemmons said it was a matter of give and take.

 

“To receive respect, we have to give respect,” he said.

According to the DOJ, the commission is tasked with researching “important current issues facing law enforcement and the criminal justice system,” and recommending a variety of subjects for study, including:

The challenges to law enforcement associated with mental illness, homelessness, substance abuse, and other social factors that influence crime and strain criminal justice resources;

The recruitment, hiring, training, and retention of law enforcement officers, including in rural and tribal communities;

Refusals by State and local prosecutors to enforce laws or prosecute categories of crimes;

The need to promote public confidence and respect for the law and law enforcement officers; and

The effects of technological innovations on law enforcement and the criminal justice system, including the challenges and opportunities presented by such innovations.

The press release also states:

"The Commission will principally conduct its study through a series of hearings, panel presentations, field visits, and other public meetings. At these events, the Commission will hear from subject matter experts, public officials, private citizens, and other relevant stakeholders and institutions who can provide valuable insight into these issues.

"The Commissioners ... (bring) an expertise in formulating and shaping law enforcement policy and leading police departments and law enforcement organizations."

“President Trump is an unwavering supporter of our men and women in blue, and he recognized that this Commission is much needed to support law enforcement,” Barr said during Wednesday’s ceremony. “It is, to be sure, long overdue. The last time there was a National Commission on law enforcement was in 1965.

“Much about our world has changed in the decades since President Johnson’s Commission. The incredible pace of technological change has meant the rapid evolution of new ways to commit and conceal crimes,” Barr continued. “All of you, because you’re on the front lines, see this everyday – from the proliferation of synthetic opioids to the use of warrant-proof encryption and the dark web to sexually exploit the most vulnerable members of society.

“Our nation is ready for you to begin this critical enterprise,” the AG concluded. “Your efforts may well influence generations.”

 

Clemmons said being on the commission will not take much time away from Richmond County, with meetings being held monthly, mostly in Washington, D.C.

In addition to serving as the county’s top lawman, Clemmons has been on the N.C. Sentencing Commission since 2011.

He served as president of the N.C. Sheriff’s Association from July 2018-July 2019 and is currently chairman of the organization’s executive committee.