Carrboro, Policing, Funds, Policy-Making – Redux

bodycam

Carrboro, NC Alderman Damon Seils responded to my note about Funding being Policy-Making, with respect to citizen design of policing, on OrangePolitics:

“Yes, funding is policy making. The DTH article neglects to mention that the Board of Aldermen will hold multiple meetings between now and June regarding the fiscal year 2016 budget, which would fund the purchase of police body cameras if the community so desires, including a public hearing on May 26. The board will also hold a public hearing specifically on the issue of police body cameras during our next public hearing on March 24. As usual, we want and need the community’s input. Community members who are unable to attend upcoming board meetings, please e-mail your thoughts to the board at boa@townofcarrboro.org and copy the town clerk at cwilson@townofcarrboro.org.”

I replied (as is my wont):

“Thank you for your comment, Damon. You have very graciously spent quite a bit of your time addressing the points being raised by this one citizen. We may not always agree. But I think, on this particular issue, we are both driven by a desire to see the very best relationship created between our police and our community, based upon mutual respect.

The thing is that the common focal denominator in such situations is almost always the people who are not happy. And, especially in this instance, I think that happiness can only be achieved if what they regard as redress is presented simply and coherently.

This is not about what I think is best, but what is likely to work best for those with grievance. And I think what is likely to work best is a single point of reference. Not a single event, necessarily. But a singular process.

It appears that you agree that it is the Carrboro Board of Aldermen which has ultimate authority to make policy for the Carrboro police. That is a huge first step.

It appears that you agree it is desirous to be making that policy jointly with the police and citizens. You invite input from the public.

But, at that point, the process seems to dissipate, rather than coalesce. With respect.

We have a public hearing here. Another one there. Still a community forum in June. Which I thought was to be the starting focal point for a methodical approach to policing policy review and design. Meanwhile, a list of about 15 action items, to be reported back – where?

I am delighted there is interest. But I wonder if those with concerns might not now be better served with an injection of coherence. Something like this:

1) A simple, bald declaration from the Board of Aldermen that they are primarily responsible for making policing policy in Carrboro.

2) An equally bald declaration that the Board will be reviewing and designing such policy jointly and consensually with police and interested citizens.

3) That there will be a singular, coherent process for such review and design – be it a series of formal forums, regular meetings of a new Board Sub-Committee, or Board Advisory Commission, whatever – some single point of reference, to which everything reports back, and which is a transparent beacon to those with grievance.

4) As a first step, posting all existing policing policies online.

5) Then, instituting a process, under the aegis of the single point of reference, for reviewing, improving, designing and monitoring compliance with policing policy.

I’m not trying to rush ahead, merely wondering about bringing coherence to what is already happening – and maybe give it a nudge.”

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