In early August, DRCNet reported that the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), the world's oldest and largest grouping of police executives, had issued a call to major party presidential candidates to establish a national commission to conduct a comprehensive review of problems in the US criminal justice system (article available online at http://www.drcnet.org/wol/148.html#chiefscommission).
The police chiefs cited a number of problems leading to a lack of popular trust in the criminal justice system, including "highly publicized incidents of use of force, racial profiling, corruption, and instances of unethical behavior of police officers and executives."
The call was originally issued in March and announced in an April 7th press release from the IACP, but then sank into oblivion, where it would have remained but for the efforts of Kansas City Star reporter Karen Dillon. Dillon, whose work on asset forfeiture abuses has been lauded in these pages (http://www.drcnet.org/wol/141.html#kcstarseries) challenged both the Bush and Gore campaigns to respond the police chiefs' call, as well as to explain their stands on asset forfeiture.
Both candidates issued statements to the Star in late August. The Bush statement said that, if elected, Bush will convene a national commission along the lines suggested by the IACP.
Bush's deputy press secretary, Ray Sullivan, told the Star that Bush expected the commission "to evaluate changing demands and challenges facing law enforcement and our justice system."
According to a Gore spokesperson quoted by the Star, the Democratic candidate would not commit to convening a commission. The spokesperson added, however, that Gore would deal firmly with law enforcement abuses "if he saw evidence that action was needed."
The Gore spokesperson added that Gore "supports existing forfeiture laws" as well as more funding for both law enforcement and education.
The Bush statement did not address asset forfeiture.