City Beat

Mayor Johnson, Sacramento police union head to attend Obama task force

Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson and the head of the city police union will travel to Washington, D.C., on Tuesday to take part in a policing task force established by President Obama.

Johnson will be one of three mayors speaking at the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing. The session will be the first public meeting held by the task force.

President Obama formed the group in December in the wake of deadly police incidents in Ferguson, Mo., Staten Island, NY, and Cleveland.

Johnson has been an outspoken figure in the national debate over police relations. Last month, Johnson requested the Sacramento Police Department explore a list of sweeping changes, including the use of body cameras on officers and ways to promote diversity on the department. The mayor also held a series of town hall forums after the Ferguson shooting and subsequent protests.

“What we’ve learned is that we cannot truly make progress unless the police and the community are working in lockstep to ensure crime rates go down while trust and legitimacy goes up,” Johnson and police union president Dustin Smith said in a joint written statement. “We are proud of the progress we continue to make here at home and look forward to telling our story and sharing our best practices nationally.”

An appearance by Johnson and Smith at the event together is significant. Some mayors and police union officials have clashed in recent months.

Johnson and Smith had a brief public spat after the mayor said a grand jury’s decision not to indict Ferguson officer Darren Wilson in the death of teenager Michael Wilson was “just a sad day for America.” The mayor and Smith later said they had resolved their differences and would work closely together.

Call The Bee’s Ryan Lillis, (916) 321-1085. Read his City Beat blog at