The Obama Foundation Pledge

In June 2020, as the national conversation was taking place on the role of policing in communities across the United States, Mayor Gary Christenson announced the UniteMalden 2020 initiative, which included signing on to the Obama Foundation’s “Reimagining Policing Pledge.” The pledge called on Mayors and local officials across the United States to review and reform their use of force policy and create public safety policies that are anti-racist, equitable, inclusive, and just for all. Malden joined many neighboring communities who also took on the pledge, including over 300 cities nationally. 

Mayor Christenson formed an Advisory Group for Obama’s Pledge (AGOP) made up of community members who leveraged their experiences and backgrounds to provide input on the current Malden Police Department (MPD) Use of Force Policy. The process as outlined by the Obama Foundation consisted of the following 4 steps:

  • Review the police use of force policy (with the Police Department);
  • Engage the community by including their input in the review whether by a survey or other means;
  • Report the findings of the review to the community and seek their feedback; and,
  • Reform policies by offering recommendations.

The AGOP worked tirelessly over a span of 18 months to review, research, provide insight, and identify areas of improvement specifically through the lens of a community member. The group considered community experiences with the MPD, met with city leaders and police officers, received information and data from the MPD, and conducted research on best practices. This resulted in a draft of recommended changes to the use of force policy that was presented to the community through a public meeting and a published survey. This was a critical part of the process, since the aim was to gather community input on the recommendations and garner thoughts, ideas, suggestions, and concerns. The AGOP then considered the community feedback in their final recommendations which became part of the Final Report submitted to the Mayor, Police Chief and Police Commissioner.