Demands for a Restorative Justice Culture in Athens-Clarke County Police Department

Demands for a Restorative Justice Culture in Athens-Clarke County Police Department

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Athens Anti Discrimination Movement, Athens for Everyone, Athens Immigrant Rights Coalition started this petition to Athens-Clarke County Manager and

In September, County Manager Blaine Williams made the decision to dismiss Police Chief Scott Freeman from ACCPD, to the surprise of the community and Athens-Clarke County commissioners. An open records request reveals there was substantial pushback from officers in the police department who were disgruntled not only by the firing of Officer Saulters earlier this year, but also by Freeman's insistence on implementing community policing. This distrust within the police department, a "blue code" culture where officers back the problematic and potentially violent decisions of other officers, and officers' intentional disobedience of community policing practices is the context in which Chief Freeman was dismissed.

So, it is clear these problems run deep. This is a call for good governance from our Mayor, Commissioners, and staff (transparency! community input!), and for a demilitarized, community-engaged police department. Please consider signing the below petition to show your support for our local government increasing transparency regarding the future of ACCPD, prioritizing community input, and taking active steps to investigate and reform the internal culture of the Athens-Clarke County Police Department so that it serves the Athens community in a truly restorative way.

www.aadmovement.org

www.athensforeveryone.com

www.athensimmigrantrights.org

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Athens-Clarke County Manager, Mayor, and Commissioners:

We, the undersigned, call upon the Athens-Clarke County Manager, Mayor, and Commissioners to display a commitment to community input, transparency, and restorative justice practices in the hiring of a new police chief and the reforming of policing culture in the Athens-Clarke County Police Department.

INVOLVE COMMUNITY IN HIRING PROCESS. The process for hiring of a new Police Chief must be transparent and accessible to the Athens community. We ask that the County Manager be forthcoming regarding the process for hiring a new chief and actively solicit community input to ensure that this new chief reflects the community’s investment in community policing.

EXTEND TIMELINE FOR HIRING NEW CHIEF. To allow for meaningful community input, proper vetting of candidates’ alignment to community priorities, and space to confront some larger issues around ACCPD culture, the County Manager should extend the deadline for prospective Police Chief applicants beyond the October date.

PRIORITIZE RESTORATIVE JUSTICE PRACTICES IN ACCPD. The County Manager and future Chief should demonstrate a commitment to transforming Athens police culture through:

  • supporting measures that build commitment to community-engaged policing throughout the department, even in the face of possible resistance from current police officers.
  • ending the “blue code” internal culture of the police department.
  • demilitarizing the police department’s resources and tactics.
  • establishing a hiring process that targets and reflects the diverse members of the community such as people from various marginalized groups and people with backgrounds in social work, education, and counseling.

ESTABLISH A CITIZENS’ POLICE ACCOUNTABILITY (ADVISORY) BOARD. We need our Mayor & Commission to prioritize the establishment of a Citizens’ Police Accountability Board (CPAB) similar to those in cities like Chicago and Pittsburgh, as well as Austin and other cities in Texas. We should focus our aims on models that empower the CPAB to:

  • Hire and fire the police chief and officers, place officers on leave, and review cases and make decisions regarding police conduct
  • Prescribe methods and strategy for police reform including, but not limited to, monitoring the internal complaint investigation process, conducting evaluations of police trainings and codes of conduct, ensuring adequate public reporting, and demilitarizing the police department’s resources and tactics.
  • Review, approve, and submit the annual budget for ACCPD to the local government.

This board must be designed to include stakeholders disproportionately impacted by police misconduct including, but not limited to, people of color, under-documented individuals, queer and trans folk, and young people. This board must be created in addition to the proposed Criminal Justice Coordinating Committee to hold the Athens Clarke County police force accountable to the community in a meaningful way. In order for this group to effectively investigate police misconduct and ensure integrity of internal investigations, the board must be provided staff, resources, and authority to refer cases to grand juries for possible criminal indictments against police officers.

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