Demand That The Salem PD Audit Be Transparent And Fair

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This petition was created to demand that the Salem City Council, Mayor Chuck Bennett, and City Manager Steve Powers conduct the approved third-party audit of the Salem Police Department in a way that is transparent, timely, and involves all communities in Salem, especially Communities of Color.

At the July 13, 2020 Salem City Council meeting a proposal to launch a third-party audit of the Salem Police Department was approved by a unanimous vote. The audit was first proposed by Councilor Vanessa Nordyke (Ward 7). Councilor Nordyke deserves a massive kudos for initially calling for the proposal, as well as for leading the charge and effectively advocating for the effort in the July 13th City Council meeting.

The original proposal, which was drafted by city staff, was amended during the Council meeting. The amendments improved the scope of the audit. To see the original version of the proposal, including the proposed scope of the audit, go to this link here.

To watch the July 13th Salem City Council meeting, check out the video on CCTV's YouTube channel. The main audit discussion and vote starts at the 3:02:30 mark of the video.

The July 13th unanimous vote was significant and worthy of celebrating. However, that celebration needs to be tempered because there will be a lot of work ahead, not the least of which is ensuring that the third-party entity that is selected to conduct the audit is honest and reputable.

An extensive history exists with Salem city leadership involving a lot of foot-dragging on things of this nature - we cannot let that happen with this audit. This audit is important for many reasons, not the least of which is the recent events in Salem as well as the massive Salem PD budget. Results from this audit will be used for many important purposes in the near future, including but not limited to:

  • The use of student resource officers in schools
  • Policies related to the required use by Salem PD of body and vehicle cameras
  • Prioritizing Salem PD’s budget to shift funds towards other services
  • Helping the incoming Salem PD Chief learn more about the department
  • Boosting Salem PD accountability and enhancing public trust

It is vital that the Salem community, especially Communities of Color, be as engaged in this process as much as possible every step of the way to help ensure transparency, accuracy, accountability, and quality outcomes.

Change is never guaranteed, however, this is likely as good of an opportunity to push for significant law enforcement reform in Salem than at any other time in Salem's history.

The public input component of this audit is crucial because one of the main purposes of the audit is to try to rebuild trust in the City of Salem and Salem PD, which has eroded considerably in recent weeks with everything that has gone on (see more at ReformSalemPD.com).

Also, with a growing number of citizens calling for police reform, in addition to looming budget shortfalls due to the ongoing pandemic, the public deserves to know that its limited public resources are prioritized properly and being used effectively.

Please sign and share this petition. The future of Salem is counting on it!

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