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Denver, New York City Police Chiefs Join Call to End Mass Imprisonment

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Some of the nation’s most prominent law enforcement officials were in Washington D.C. on Wednesday, calling for the U.S. to reduce its incarceration rate.

Police chiefs from some of the nation’s largest cities, including New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago and Denver, joined over 130 other police chiefs, prosecutors and sheriffs to launch Law Enforcement Leaders to Reduce Crime and Incarceration, a group “committed to identifying and implementing solutions to simultaneously reduce crime and incarceration” with the “goal of building a smarter, stronger and fairer criminal justice system.”

“After all the years I’ve been doing this work, I ask myself, ‘What is a crime, and what does the community want?’” Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy, a chairman of the group, to the New York Times. “When we’re arresting people for low-level offenses — narcotics — I’m not sure we’re achieving what we’ve set out to do. The system of criminal justice is not supporting what the community wants. It’s very obvious what needs to be done, and we feel the obligation as police chiefs to do this.”

Earlier this week, the coalition released a 17-page “Statement of Principles,” outlining how the group hopes to increase alternatives to arrests and prosecution, to restore balance to criminal laws, to reform mandatory minimums and to strengthen community-law enforcement ties.

According to the Denver Post, President Barack Obama plans to meet with the group on Thursday.

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