Action deadline August 17, 2022
As we discussed in our news post about the proposed Task Force prompted by the “racial animus” ruling about the Greenfield Police Department, the composition of the group is currently being discussed by the city council. RJR believes that people of color should be represented on the task force. Our partner, Greenfield People’s Budget, has additional talking points:
Councilor Marianne Bullock has proposed a “City/Community Public Safety Task Force” with a long-term vision of creating a “community engagement process for defining a transformational vision for public safety that shifts resources from enforcement and punishment to prevention and wellness into subsequent budget cycles.” We like the sound of that–and the devil’s in the details.
The community task force proposal is in part a response to the Mayor’s proposed audit of GPD following the racial discrimination lawsuit against the city and Chief Haigh and the ensuing public outcry. The task force will be run by volunteers. The audit will be performed by hired professional consultants.
The audit can address policies and stated procedures of the Greenfield Police Department, but as Councilor Bullock’s proposal already states, any community task force should not focus on GPD. We already know that most of the calls directed to the police could be better handled in other ways. We know that the kind of safety many community members urgently need cannot be delivered by law enforcement. We know, per the American Public Health Association (here and here), that the best ways to reduce the racialized harms of the criminal legal system are to reduce people’s contact with police and invest in community support and prevention. That’s why we are calling for the task force to focus on addressing our community’s safety more broadly.
Councilor Bullock’s proposal is framed that way. But who’s going to steer this task force? The mayor? The police? The mayor holds final say over how this task force is structured. That makes us very concerned.