Arva Rice, Pres/CEO, New York Urban League, Inc. Joins Police Reform Committee
Arva Rice, Pres/CEO, New York Urban League, Inc. Joins Police Reform Committee
New York, New York – October 13, 2020 – Arva Rice, President & CEO, New York Urban League, Inc. has accepted an invitation from NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea to join Wes Moore, CEO, Robin Hood Foundation and Jennifer Jones Austin, CEO and Executive Director of the Federal of Protestant Welfare Agencies, to help guide and develop a police reform plan for New York City that has been mandated by an executive order from Governor Cuomo.
In June, Governor Cuomo issued Executive Order 203 which requires localities across the state, including New York City, to convene a “Police Reform and Reinvention Collaborative.”
The Governor’s Executive Order calls on localities to, “perform a comprehensive review of current police force deployments, strategies, policies, procedures, and practices, and develop a plan to improve such deployments, strategies, policies, procedures, and practices, for the purposes of addressing the particular needs of the communities served by such police agency and promote community engagement to foster trust, fairness, and legitimacy, and to address any racial bias and disproportionate policing of communities of color.”
“I believe this invitation presents a unique opportunity to influence the future of policing in New York City and to address the ongoing racial disparities in law enforcement,” said Arva Rice, Pres/CEO, New York Urban League, Inc. “But make no mistake, I recognize that the acceptance of this role may not be unilaterally accepted by those we serve. NYPD has formed many Task Forces, Advisory Committees and Focus Groups in the past, yet our communities still suffer from harassment, disrespect and death. It is my belief that COVID-19 and the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor have created a moral imperative to push for real change. I feel personally and professionally called to answer this call,” she said.
The state’s Budget Director has been empowered by Governor Cuomo to condition the disbursement of any appropriated state or federal funds to localities on the completion of the reform planning process. Attaching the future availability of state and federal funds creates a powerful accountability tool for the execution of this reform process.
Arva Rice, Moore and Jones Austin will serve as key advisors, playing a critical role in the creation of a concrete and tangible plan that will be submitted to the state by April 1, 2021.
National Urban League President Marc Morial said, “Arva’s nearly three decades of advocacy, activism and public service in New York City are an invaluable asset to the ongoing effort to reimagine policing. Few community leaders have achieved her level of trust and esteem across so many sectors of the city. She is a perfect choice to help the NYPD engage more meaningfully with the communities it serves.”
Police Commissioner Dermot Shea announced the partnership “to engage communities and people who live, work and serve throughout the city in the Department’s ongoing effort to ensure public safety that is fair, responsive to, and considerate of all New Yorkers……a Department-wide undertaking to transform New York City Policing to be safer and fairer for all concerned, beginning with the launch of eight community meetings in all five boroughs over the next four weeks as a springboard to collect input critical to transformation.”
“I encourage our community’s participation and engagement in these virtual Town Halls and other meetings as we work to ensure our community’s voices, issues, concerns and solutions are included in this process,” noted Arva Rice.
“With a sustained focus over the last nearly seven years, NYPD leaders have worked to reinforce our basic mission of keeping people safe while building trust with the New Yorkers we serve,” said Police Commissioner Dermot Shea. “In law enforcement, if you aren’t striving to improve, then you shouldn’t be in this line of work. This new effort, with these critical partners, is vital to making the Police Department stronger, fairer and more transparent. I am grateful to Arva, Jennifer and Wes and look forward to the work ahead.”
“Every New Yorker should feel confident that they can move about New York City with the assurance that our police officers are concerned with protecting them, and with treating them fairly should they find themselves interacting with the NYPD for whatever reason,” said Jennifer Jones Austin, CEO & Executive Director of the Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies. “I am eager to work with Commissioner Shea and my colleagues to ensure that all voices, and especially Blacks, Browns and other persons of color, as well as persons experiencing poverty and health challenges, are heard and embraced as critical reforms centered on keeping all New Yorkers safe and supported are designed and implemented.
“Despite past police reform efforts, the people of New York City – and particularly our communities of color – have continued to express frustration about being overpoliced and the need for further reform. The statewide and mandated ‘Reform and Reinvention Collaborative’ is a vital process to bridge the gap in trust between too many of our New Yorkers and the NYPD,” said Wes Moore, CEO of Robin Hood. “It is with great humility and responsibility that I step into this role to ensure that the community is at the center of the discussion around how we move forward to reimagine the way our neighborhoods are kept safe.”
“This year our city and our nation faced a health, economic and a criminal justice crisis paving the way for reflection and reform. We have a moral imperative to work to make sure that community voices are heard and New Yorkers feel safe and respected no matter the neighborhood that they reside,” said Arva Rice, President and CEO of the New York Urban League. “The Statewide and mandated “Police Reform and Reinvention Collaborative” is a welcome opportunity to engage in this process learning from New Yorkers as well as experiences and practices around the country. Working with Commissioner Shea, NYPD, City Council and the Mayor’s Office and my colleagues is a role I take with great responsibility and commitment to create recommendations that can truly improve our great city.”
An attorney and author, Jennifer Jones Austin heads FPWA, an anti-poverty, policy and advocacy organization with more than 150 members and partners. She has led and secured significant changes in social policy and law in New York State to strengthen and empower those who are disenfranchised and marginalized. Co-host of WBLS’ Open Line and weekly guest host on Keep’n It Real with Rev. Al Sharpton and the Karen Hunter Show, she currently serves as a board member of the National Action Network, Chair of the NYC Board of Correction, and Advisor to the Feerick Center for Social Justice.
A bestselling author, Army combat veteran and social entrepreneur, Wes Moore leads one of the largest anti-poverty forces in the nation. Raised in Baltimore, MD, and in the Bronx, he graduated from Valley Force Military College and Johns Hopkins University and earned a MLitt in International Relations from Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar. He served as a captain and paratrooper with the U.S. Army’s 82ndAirborne Division, including a combat deployment to Afghanistan, and then as a White House Fellow to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
Arva Rice heads an organization whose mission is to enable African American and other underserved communities to secure a first-class education, economic self-reliance and equal respect of their civil rights through programs, service and advocacy. She is a graduate of Northwestern University, Commissioner for the NYC Equal Employment Practices Commission, a member of the Women’s Forum, on the Board of Trustees of First Corinthians Baptist Church and the Greater New York Chapter of the Links Incorporated.
For over 100 years, the New York Urban League (NYUL) has led the way in the education, employment, and empowerment of underserved African-Americans across the five boroughs of New York City. During this time, we are proud to have inspired, influenced, and ignited over one million Black people to achieve their highest aspirations. NYUL remains a vital resource for our city’s African-Americans and other underserved groups. We invest to transform the lives of over 8,000 families each year by providing quality higher education options, economic opportunity, and community engagement. Visit https://www.nyul.org/; https://www.facebook.com/newyorkurbanleague/ and https://twitter.com/NYUrbanLeague