Petition for Police Accountability Through Data Transparency
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As members of the Asheville community, we are horrified by what happened last August when APD Officer Chris Hickman viciously assaulted Johnnie Jermaine Rush. We are convinced that this is not an isolated incident involving a single “bad apple,” but part of a pattern. We believe that changing that pattern requires changing the structures and culture that support it.
The community must be empowered to hold the City of Asheville and the Asheville Police Department accountable and to work as partners with the City in identifying and implementing solutions. This means that the community must have access to reliable and up-to-date information about APD actions and policies.
We support the request by Code for Asheville that the Asheville City Council require the regular release of critical data and policies related to public safety and the police department and that Asheville join with other cities that are already using data to bring about positive systemic change.
Specifically, we support Code for Asheville’s request that the City Council:
Require that regularly updated data on the following topics be added to the City of Asheville Open Data Portal, with proper consideration for privacy concerns:
- Use-of-force incidents by our police department,
- Emergency (911) call data,
- Crime report data,
- Arrest and citation data,
- Citizen complaints,
- Traffic stop reports,
- Demographic information on APD officers.
Mandate that up-to-date versions of these policies and reports be posted to the City website:
- APD Policy Manual,
- Blank copies of internal report forms,
- Internal audit reports on body-worn cameras,
- Recordings of public committee meetings related to public safety or otherwise of significant community interest.
Take the following additional actions:
- Move quickly to accept the recommendations of the Blue Ribbon Committee,
- Adopt the policy recommendations related to racial disparities in traffic stops presented by Ian Mance of the Southern Coalition for Social Justice in April 2017,
- Adopt a comprehensive anti-retaliation policy to protect employees who report wrongdoing in our government,
- Direct staff to have the City join the Police Data Initiative, a group dedicated to improving public safety by working with communities to build trust and accountability in law enforcement
These actions are in line with best practices of city governments around the country and with Asheville’s Open Data Policy. We ask that the City Council accept Code for Asheville’s recommendations and direct staff to begin implementing them without delay.
We have waited long enough. It is time to begin the hard work to create a more equitable and just community and to rebuild trust between the community and those tasked with protecting it.
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