Citizen Design of Policing – Update

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On an aside. And because I know you want to know. The medical problems persist. More tests today. Sigh. But the brain is still working. And I wanted to get this up.

I had earlier heard from Carrboro, NC Alderman Damon Seils that the Third Carrboro Community Forum on Policing had been postponed until December. I have now heard that it is being further postponed, while the Carrboro Police hold a number of smaller neighborhood forums, in an attempt to make contact directly with neighborhoods with which they feel it is most necessary to be making progress.

The Carrboro Police Chief reported to the Carrboro Board of Aldermen on this and other matters at their meeting on November 24. You can read and view here (agenda item near the bottom of the list; ‘Update on Policing in Carrboro’).

In the meantime, I attended the pilot one-day Citizen’s Police Academy on Saturday, October 24, which was extraordinarily useful. I would recommend it to all who are truly interested in improving the relationship between police and citizens.

All in all, where I am at the moment, with respect to my own learning curve, the issues being addressed, what is still happening in the country, where I am is that I am of the opinion that this matter is way more complex than originally I thought. Plus, I have no certainty what exactly are my own plans this next year.

So. I thought I would get my thoughts down in writing and share them. I have done this by producing a little document, which you can read for free on the Lulu publishing platform.

Let me know if you have difficulty reading that document for free, which you do by reading the Preview. I was having a little difficulty myself. But I did eventually work out how to do it!

Essentially, I am now taking the view that improving the relationship between police and citizens (not so much in Carrboro, where we can experiment, but certainly nationally, where matters are toxic) boils down to changing police training.

The problem with police/citizen interaction is not so much the occasional bad apple, as it is the whole approach taught in police training. One of command presence, demanding commands be followed, and then escalating police response when commands are not complied with – not when threat is necessarily present, but when commands are not complied with.

If we are to de-escalate interaction, and reduce the possibility of misunderstanding and over-reaction, I think we need completely to redesign training and to make provision for the necessary extra personnel, equipment and resources required in support.

What I express in more detail in my document is whether or not I feel that we can actually address that process all on our own in Carrboro.

If I am still available, it is certainly my intention to address the issues I raise in my document when the Third General Community Forum is held. If not, it may well be for others who feel the same way to take this forward. Good luck to us all!!

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