Second Policing Community Forum – Carrboro, NC

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Yup. Was on Chapel Hill, NC Talk Station WCHL’s ‘Commentators’ this morning. This time inviting all and sundry to the second Carrboro, NC Policing Community Forum, being held on June 29, with Carrboro Chief of Police, Walter Horton, and sponsored by the Carrboro Board of Aldermen.

You can listen here, or read the text below:

“There comes a time when even the most ardent supporter of law enforcement has to admit there is no longer distinction between law breaker and law enforcer. Both claim to be in the right. And both claim to be protecting citizens. It is my view that point has been reached. Not just in Baltimore. But in America as a whole.

That is not to say that law enforcement in every community in our nation has broken down. It is saying that law enforcement has become so critical in enough of our communities that all communities have become responsible for finding a solution.

I have proposed what might well be part of a solution with the concept (really not that original) of citizen design of policing.

I have had communication with Aldermen and certain activists in Carrboro about gently exploring implementation of that concept. Not because Carrboro is a hotbed of confrontation between citizen and police, but precisely because it is not.

I had hoped that there would be time to allow us to move that concept forward on a step-by-step basis. That time is no longer available. The streets of our nation are burning now. It is no good saying, but the problem is not here, let’s move slowly. The problem may not be here. Now. But if we do not become active, and aggressively active, in finding a solution now, then we have become a part of the problem, too.

The next step is for the Carrboro Board of Aldermen to host a second policing community forum with the Carrboro Chief of Police on June 29. I will be writing this week to the Board specifically to request that we put the concept of citizen design of policing prominently on the agenda.

So that we are clear, I will be asking at that meeting that we firmly decide in principle – police, elected officials and concerned citizenry – to establish, with speed and vigor, a working model in Carrboro, where it is no longer the police alone who design their rules of engagement with the citizenry, but the elected officials, at open meetings, where citizenry may be engaged. That is citizen design of policing.

I truly believe that it is only by building a template of citizen-designed policing here in Carrboro, where policing is truly designed and monitored by the citizenry, that we can provide to other communities a model which will prevent further violence between communities and those they trust to maintain order and regulate behavior – not just the behavior of the citizenry at large, but the behavior of the police themselves.

Please note the date. June 29. Policing community forum in Carrboro.”

I think I’m going to give notice here that I’m going to pick up on a suggestion that was mooted by someone else when I wrote earlier about this second Policing Community Forum. And that is that, if this second Forum is held in the safe confines of the Carrboro Town Hall, with safe progressive people present, in the spirit of citizen design, so that everyone (including the police) truly understand what citizen design means, I’m going to ask the meeting if they would like to ask all attending police officers to remove their weapons, for the duration of the Forum.

There is no point pretending we are beginning a process of citizen design, where everyone accepts that successful policing takes place only with the consent of the citizenry, if citizenry can’t even get their sensible way at the first opportunity. Notice given.

Meanwhile, I did write to Walter and to the Board of Aldermen, with suggestions for a consensual citizen’s agenda for the Forum. I’ll let you all know what was the substantive response, as soon as I get one.

In the meantime, please make space in your diary. This is one of the most important issues facing our nation. And Carrboro and its citizens have a role to play.

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