Missouri Association for Social Welfare to host panel on racially biased policing

Tuesday, July 20, 2010 | 6:44 p.m. CDT; updated 11:51 a.m. CDT, Wednesday, July 21, 2010

COLUMBIA — The Missouri Association for Social Welfare will be sponsoring a panel to discuss racially biased policing in the Columbia Police Department.

The association received a grant about a year ago from the Spark Plug Foundation, a New York-based group that gives grants for new projects related to human rights, but it wasn't sure how to use it.

The association realized racially biased policing was an issue in Missouri and few people were effectively working together to combat it, said Don Love, Human Rights Task Force chairman for the association.

The association has been "quite successful in finding partners – NAACP, ACLU, Anti-Defamation League and many others" since it began working on the issue, Love said.

The panel will feature David A. Harris, a professor from the University of Pittsburgh Law School. Harris is a nationally recognized expert on the topic, who has worked with police departments across the country. He has also written a couple books dealing with how to improve police practices. Harris gives an effective critique of police procedures, and he works to find positive aspects about each police department he works with, Love said.

The panel will also consist of Columbia NAACP President Mary Ratliff, American Civil Liberties Union representative Dan Viets and Columbia Police Chief Ken Burton.

The panel will be held at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the ARC.

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