Former Madison Police Chief Noble Wray has been tapped to lead a high-profile federal initiative focused on reform of policing practices and increased accountability efforts.
Cited as a community policing expert, Wray will fill a key position aimed at implementing changes designed to rebuild public trust in a post-Ferguson policing world.
Wray will lead the newly created Policing Practices and Accountability Initiative, a program within the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, COPS Director Ronald Davis announced Wednesday.
The initiative was a recommendation from the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing, formed in response to public unrest after the fatal police killings of unarmed black men in Ferguson, Missouri and New York.
It’s not clear whether the new job will require a move to Washington for Wray, who could not be reached for comment Wednesday. But Justice Department press secretary Mary Brandenberger described Wray’s new job as “a full-time, federal appointment in D.C.,” and one that is “not considered a contractor or consultant position.”
“There’s no requirement that he live in the area, although, as you can imagine, it would be quite difficult to live elsewhere,” Brandenberger added.
Wray’s new initiative will oversee “collaborative reform and critical response technical assistance programs,” according to the Justice Department.
It also will provide crisis response services and help police agencies develop strategies to implement task force recommendations.
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“The recommendations from (the task force) serve as a blueprint for reducing crime while building trust and legitimacy,” Davis said in a statement Wednesday. “Chief Wray’s background and extensive experience make him the ideal candidate to lead this effort.”
Davis said Wray was widely respected as an expert in building public trust through community policing, having provided training for the Justice Department to more than 200 police agencies on fair and impartial policing.
Wray also has consulted with police on topics including improved police culture and leadership, procedural justice, and the “nobility of policing,” which focuses on the purpose of policing in a democratic society, Davis said.
Wray, a Milwaukee native, retired in September 2013 after nearly 30 years with the Madison Police Department, including the previous nine as chief.
Since retiring, he has served on nonprofit boards and held posts including interim CEO for the Urban League of Greater Madison and board president for the United Way of Dane County.
Members of the president’s task force included police officers, activists and academics. They were charged with soliciting testimony and expertise from the public and other stakeholders aimed at identifying best practices and making recommendations for ways that policing practices can fight crime effectively while building public trust.
The final report, released in May, calls for changes including increased transparency by police about serious events and improved communication with citizens and the media.
A series of recommendations were included for law enforcement agencies and communities to implement regarding building trust and legitimacy, policy and oversight, technology and social media, community policing and crime reduction, and training and education.