The President’s Report that Changed Lives

The President’s Crime Commission in 1967.


The President’s Commission on Law Enforcement and Administration of Justice was a group of 19 people appointed by President Johnson in 1967 to study the American criminal justice system. Johnson assigned the group the staggering task of fighting crime and repairing the American criminal justice system.

On the 50th anniversary of this commission, I am reminded of a story:

Once upon a time in a land far away, a young Marine sergeant mustered out to get a college education and return to the Corps. He had a wife and child and needed a job — so he joined the police, why not? He worked nights and attended classes during the daytime.

Just before his graduation, and after serving seven years as a police officer, he came across a new report on police and the criminal justice system — President Lyndon Johnson’s Commission on Law Enforcement and the Administration of Justice. That was 50 years ago.

And after he read that report he vowed to stay in policing and work to implement those far-sweeping national recommendations.

Two years later, he was appointed as chief of police in a suburban city and four years later he was the chief in a larger, medium-sized city. He served there for over 20 years and helped change the face of American policing.

It was that report, so long ago, that dramatically changed his life. Perhaps that will happen today. Somewhere out there is a young, educated police officer who has read President Obama’s Task Force Report on 21st Century Policing.

And it will have dramatically changed another life!


These were the radical ideas (paraphrased) that spurred that young marine on:

1. PREVENT CRIME. The first key to addressing crime is to prevent it. Family, schools, jobs and counselling also play a role in this. It’s not solely a police problem.

2. SEEK NEW ALTERNATIVES. Look for new alternatives to deal with offenders – seek rehabilitate them and reduce their recidivism.

3. BUILD TRUST. Eliminate unfairness in policing and in the courts; alternatives to bail systems that punish those destitute; strained relationships between police and those they serve require improved communications and partnerships to build trust.

4. HIRE SMART, EDUCATED COPS. There is a need for intelligent, well-educated personnel across the system; salaries commensurate with experience and education and a need to standardize police professionalism and training.

5. INNOVATE AND FUND. There is a need for new and innovative ways to respond to crime; larger amounts of resources need to be devoted to research. More funding for improved programs and salaries.

6. BE THE CHANGE. The responsibility for making these changes rests on all of us. We all play a role in preventing and addressing crime in our communities.

  • READ the full report HERE.