AAC Promising Practices Webinar: Addressing Historic Inequities through Police Reform

Join us to learn about the need for a racial equity in law enforcement and to hear about recent reforms police departments have been implementing to improve public safety and build trust.

Thursday, June 25, 2020 @ 11:00 AM PT, 12:00 PM MT, 1:00 PM CT and 2:00 PM ET



Dante J. James, Esq.
Co-Founder & Managing Partner of The Gemini Group, LLC

Dante J. James has over 25 years of political and legal experience, and has worked in senior leadership positions with government and civil society. An attorney by education and training, Mr. James has provided legal representation in private practice, served as an administrative hearing officer as well as political appointee and political consultant. He worked and traveled for the Clinton Administration for almost eight years leading Advance work nationally and internationally.

He served as an appointee of the Mayor of Portland, Oregon for six years, as the first director of its city’s civil rights office, the Office of Equity and Human Rights. Prior to that, he was the Colorado State Director for the Center for Progressive Leadership (CPL), a national non-profit organization focused on developing the next generation of progressive leaders. Prior to holding this position, he was appointed by Denver Mayor Wellington Webb to serve as Executive Director of the Mayor’s Office of Contract Compliance, the City’s Affirmative Action office overseeing the utilization of women and minority owned businesses in city projects. Mr. James is also a long-time trainer, facilitator and teacher. As an Adjunct Faculty member, he has taught at the University of Colorado at Denver and the University of Denver Sturm College of Law. He also lived and worked in Japan for two years teaching English in Japanese high schools, often giving presentations to Chambers of Commerce on internationalization and cross-cultural communication. Additionally, Dante served in the U.S. Army as a Military Policeman.

As a Government Leader, Dante has worked for four mayoral administrations in two cities, been a loaned executive to a major west coast city, worked for the Clinton Administration, and provided his expertise in consultation with various cities around the country on the creation and implementation of equity offices and their work. He is currently a Senior Fellow with the National Civic League.

Sean Smoot
Managing Principal for the 21st Century Policing, LLC

Sean Smoot provides consulting services to several state and local law enforcement agencies as well as private companies. He is a member of the Baltimore and Cleveland Police Departments consent decree monitoring teams. He also serves as Director of the Police Benevolent & Protective Association of Illinois and the Police Benevolent Labor Committee.

Mr. Smoot holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice Sciences from Illinois State University and his Juris Doctor degree from the Southern Illinois University School of Law, where he served as the Business Editor of the SIU Law Journal. Mr. Smoot was a Member of the Executive Session on Policing and Public Safety at the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University 2008-2014. He is very honored to have served as a police and public safety policy advisor to the Obama-Biden Presidential Transition Teams. He was appointed by the President of the United States to the Task Force on 21st Century Policing on December 18, 2014.

A nationally recognized subject matter expert regarding police related topics such as, Public Employment Labor Law, Pension & Benefits Law, Section 1983 Civil Rights Litigation, and Police Use of Force; he has written several articles for police publications and newsletters and speaks regularly at state, national, and international forums regarding community policing, public safety, and public employee labor issues. He co-authored “Police Leadership Challenges in a Changing World” published in July, 2012, and authored a contribution to the Special Report titled “Mending Justice: Sentinel Event Reviews” published in September 2014, both by the US Department of Justice, National Institute of Justice.

Mr. Smoot also serves as the Area 4 Vice-President of the National Association of Police Organizations (“NAPO”), a national law enforcement advocacy group representing over 250,000 police officers. He has served on the Advisory Committee for the National Law Enforcement Officers’ Rights Center in Washington, D.C. since 1996.

He serves on the Advisory Committee at the Chicago-Kent College of Law’s Public Sector Labor Relations Law Program. He is an active member of the Illinois Law Enforcement Training and Standards Board’s Use of Force Advisory Committee, Police Pursuit Advisory Committee, Racial Profiling Advisory Committee, and the Task Force on Police Integrity. On November 13, 2015, Governor Bruce Rauner appointed him to serve on the Illinois Commission on Police Professionalism.

Mr. Smoot holds several Certificates in Police Union Leadership from the Harvard Law School. He has been repeatedly selected for inclusion in Super Lawyers & Rising Stars and has been recognized as one of the “Top Employment & Labor Attorneys in Illinois” by the publishers of Chicago magazine. He was admitted to practice before the United States Supreme Court in June of 2011.

Mr. Smoot and his family reside in the City of Leland Grove, Illinois where he served as an elected Alderman and the Police Commissioner for twelve years.

Captain Brian O’Hara
Commander Consent Decree & Planning Division for the Newark Police Division

Since 2017, Captain O’Hara has served as the Commander of the Consent Decree and Planning Division, where he oversees the implementation and compliance with a Federal Consent Decree. Newark’s Consent Decree mandates reforms in community engagement, civilian oversight, complaint intake, discipline, use of force, property and evidence management, and stop, search, and arrest practices.

Captain O’Hara earned his undergraduate and graduate degrees from the School of Criminal Justice at Rutgers University in Newark, where he was awarded the 2010 Richard J. Hughes Award.

As a police officer, O’Hara was assigned to patrol in the West District, the Vailsburg Task Force, the Safe City Task Force, and as a motorcycle officer in the Traffic Division. Upon promotion to sergeant 2006, he was assigned to patrol as a field supervisor in the North District, and later in the Traffic Division.

In 2008, O’Hara was transferred to the Police Director’s Office where he performed the policy and planning function. In 2010, he was promoted to lieutenant and was appointed the Executive Officer of the 2nd Precinct, before returning again to the Director’s Office. In 2014, O’Hara was assigned as acting captain of the Metro Division, and in 2017, as Commander of the Consent Decree & Planning Division.

Captain O’Hara received a certificate of completion from the Senior Executives in States and Local Government program at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. He a graduate of the 240th Session of the FBI National Academy, and of the 54th Session of the Police Executive Research Forum’s Senior Management Institute for Police, and is a certified public manager and police academy instructor.

Webinar Description

In the wake of the recent wave of tragedies involving the murders of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade and so many more, we are reminded that there is much work to be done to eradicate systemic racism in the United States. While we’ve been heartened to see so many people speak out about the lack of racial equity in law enforcement and beyond, as a nation we’ve been down the road of public anger and good intentions before and often seen little real change. Lasting results require not only public protest, but dialogue and deliberation, with everyone at the decision-making table and everyone playing a role in creating a more equitable community.

This webinar aims to lift up some of the tangible work that police departments and others are doing to improve community-police relations. Attendees will hear from Dante James, Co-Founder & Managing Partner of The Gemini Group, LLC, who will discuss the need for racial equity in both police work and city government in general. We will then be joined by Sean Smoot from 21st Century Policing, LLC which helps cities and communities effectively tackle the challenges of delivering safe, effective, just, and constitutional public safety services in the 21st Century. Lastly, we will be joined by Captain Brian O’Hara from the Newark Police Division who will discuss recent reforms by the department.


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