The Task Force also made important recommendations in the area of oversight and accountability that can be implemented right away (while we work on rooting out systemic injustice), and help ensure that cops who engage in police brutality will be held accountable within their agencies and within our criminal justice system.
As far as systemic injustice goes, the President's Task Force on 21st Century Policing calls for the creation of another task force "to review and evaluate all components of the criminal justice system for the purpose of making recommendations to the country on comprehensive criminal justice reform." Second, the Task Force calls upon the President to "promote programs that take a comprehensive and inclusive look at community based initiatives that address the core issues of poverty, education, health, and safety."
Whether or not society needs any more task forces to review the status quo of inequality that inheres in the criminal justice system -- we surely can benefit from the promotion of any and all efforts to deal with systemic injustice by combating poverty and expanding access to education, health and safety. It is not coincidental that the communities that suffer the most from police brutality are also those that suffer from the social ills of poverty and reduced access to health, education and basic safety.
More concretely, the Task Force made recommendations in the area of police oversight and accountability that if implemented might help level the playing field sooner rather than later. The Task Force recommends "external and independent criminal investigations in cases of police use of force resulting in death, officer-involved shootings resulting in injury or death, or in-custody deaths" (Action Item 2.2.2.) and "policies that mandate the use of external and independent prosecutors in cases of police use of force resulting in death, officer-involved shootings resulting in injury or death, or in-custody deaths" (Action Item 2.2.3.).
What we have seen over and over in California and across the country is watchmen watching out for their own and not the public at large. How many police officers have engaged in police brutality or police killings of civilians that in any other context would be considered "criminal behavior" and investigated and prosecuted as such?
We can't expect a reduction in police brutality unless those who engage in it are held accountable. Those currently tasked with the job of "watching the watchmen" are the very agencies that employ the subject officers and the district attorney's office that relies on those officers to make its cases on a daily basis. It's time to try something else -- and allow independent agencies to provide the oversight and accountability necessary to bring real meaning to the words "not on my watch."