The Hilltop Missionary Baptist Choir in Riviera Beach leading praise and worship in the Rally for Corey Jones

Racial tensions in America have been high in this year of 2015. Social media sites have been flooded with clips of white police officers mistreating or even killing black citizens. Our own county of Palm Beach has experienced the unexplained deaths in recent months of at least two Christian black men, and the Body of Christ banned together in protest.

Riviera Beach Mayor, Thomas E. Masters, vowed to work for changes in the system that would permit such atrocities as the killing of Corey Jones to continue, and many community leaders rallied behind him. A petition was drafted, signatures secured and Masters took the document to Washington D.C., asking for four items of change, including an independent investigation into the fatal police shooting of Corey Jones and dashboard cameras in police vehicles or body cameras on all police officers.

Church services were held throughout Palm Beach County, where parishioners discussed and prayed for these changes to take place. Their prayers and petitions were heard and are being answered.

Cooperation between police officers and the communities they serve reduces crime and strengthens neighborhoods.  Unfortunately, the real and perceived lack of equity, dignity, and justice has eroded trust between the public and law enforcement.  ~Congressman Patrick Murphy

To the first request on the list, the FBI will now be assisting the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office with the investigation of the killing of Corey Jones.

To the second tier of requests, Congressman Patrick Murphy has responded by working to change laws and provide protection for problematic areas. Murphy, along with
Representatives Charles B. Rangel (NY-13), Mike Honda (CA-17), and Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC) have introduced a bill that would measure public trust in law enforcement and recommend improvements before problems arise.

According to Congressman Patrick Murphy, “This bill would measure public trust in law enforcement via the National Crime Victimization Survey, which is conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau for the Bureau of Justice Statistics.  For areas where the level of public trust in the police force is problematically low, the Attorney General would submit recommendations to improve confidence in law enforcement and address systemic problems before conflicts escalate.  In addition to incentivizing partnerships to improve community relations, the TRUST Act recognizes the service of heroic law enforcement officers for their successes in building trust and working cooperatively with those they protect and serve.”

Congressman Murphy said, “Cooperation between police officers and the communities they serve reduces crime and strengthens neighborhoods.  Unfortunately, the real and perceived lack of equity, dignity, and justice has eroded trust between the public and law enforcement.”

From the perspective of a CPA, who analyzes and measures data, Murphy stated, “I know that in order to improve any metric, you have to start by measuring it.  With a renewed focus on restoring public trust we can rebuild this essential relationship that makes our communities safer and better places to live.”

Along with the TRUST Act, Congressman Murphy is working with Congresswoman Corrine Brown (FL-05) in co-sponsoring the Police CAMERA Act, which would provide federal funding for the purchase of body cameras.

Although these measures do not meet the exact criteria of every bullet point on the Petition drafted by community members and leaders in response to the Corey Jones killing, it is a step that can be celebrated as the first step toward lasting change.