Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Second Carrboro, NC Community Forum On Policing

Yes, folks. After six months of waiting, it is finally here. The Second Carrboro, NC Community Forum on Policing, being hosted by the Carrboro Board of Aldermen and Chief of Police, Walter Horton, this coming Monday, at the Carrboro Town Hall, beginning at 7.00pm.

I will, at that forum, be proposing that Carrboro adopt the concept of 'citizen design of policing.' Ok. By the stages. What is citizen design of policing?

Very simple. It arises from the belief that, even if your own community is an oasis of calm, there are communities in this country where there is deep distrust between police and those they are policing. The notion is that the distrust might end if it is citizens who design policing methods, not police on their own.

How does this work. Again, very simple. People forget that police are employees of the agency funding them. You demand of the elected officials of that funding agency that they start to take the lead in designing policing policy, not leaving it to the police themselves. And you make the design process open and transparent and totally accessible to concerned citizens, so that aggrieved citizens have the opportunity, not merely to complain, but to design away those aspects of policing they do not like.

Will it work. Who knows? What I do know is that it won't even get a chance if you don't turn up.

Why Carrboro? Not because it is a hotbed of tension. Precisely because it is not - even if there are some difficulties. Better to implement and test the process in a small, friendly community, so that it can then be available for those larger communities more at risk.

But once again, we can't design that template if you don't turn up. As some of you may know, I have been trying to lay the groundwork these past several months, by advocating, blogging, explaining and meeting with Carrboro Aldermen and other concerned groups. I have now followed up with an e-mail dealing with the logistical nitty-gritty of next Monday. Tucked away in that e-mail, you will also find useful links to all that groundwork, explaining, advocacy, etc., for more background information:

"Dear Carrboro Board of Aldermen and Chief Horton,

I do not think I need to re-canvass here what is citizen design of policing, and why I think it is urgent that we move towards such a concept with our policing in Carrboro, not just for Carrboro, but as a part of our nation, where there is considerable tension between the police and community, even if that tension does not exist in our community. You can remind yourself of a summary of my thinking with this link:

I have discussed, both in meeting and on blogs, how I think this concept might look in its beginning stages:

The purpose of this e-mail is to get down to the nitty-gritty of the second Carrboro community forum on policing next Monday itself. And I think I am not alone in believing that the meeting next Monday should be the beginning of a process. Not a stand-alone event.

I am one person. Owed no particular favors. I have some thoughts. So do other people. But I would hope that the meeting is not too taken up merely with reporting by the Board and the Police Chief. I think folks want interactive involvement.

I would like to suggest the outlines of a working, citizen-oriented agenda. We have brief reports from the Police Chief and the Board on what they have been doing since the first Carrboro community forum on policing. You then invite groups which have been taking an interest to report, also briefly. I know that the local NAACP and Orange County Justice United have certainly been holding meetings. Perhaps get a sense of who else might want to report when those present confirm the agenda at the beginning of the meeting. After that, open the floor. And let those present drive the meeting.

I certainly will wish to have citizen design of policing on the agenda. I have a motion I wish to propose, and will be open to answering questions on the concept and how I see it working.

The final point is that I think it would be useful to have an item at the end of the agenda where the meeting determines what happens next. Once again, my sense is that people want an ongoing process. I think it would be useful if the meeting was given a chance to set a time period for what happens next, when another such meeting should be held, and so on. How we might want future meetings and process to be different. If there is anything specific we might want on the agenda, so that folks have a chance to prepare. And if there are any side issues people might want to be researching or undertaking.

I am happy either for you to propose something like this, or I can propose it from the floor at the start of the meeting.

The motion I will be proposing is s follows:

"This meeting of concerned Carrboro citizens believes that, henceforth, policing policy in Carrboro should be designed by the elected officials of the Carrboro Board of Aldermen, in conjunction with the Carrboro Police Department, and that such design should take place in an open and transparent manner, involving those concerned Carrboro citizens who wish to participate."

It may well be that some folks will want some idea of how I think citizen design might work in its first steps. I refer to that in the second link above. I also set out some thoughts about what I personally might want citizen design to address early on, in this link:

There is one last link which includes some thinking about citizen design, just to round out the information (!):

I look forward to the meeting next /monday, and the beginning of a process which I hope may serve as a successful template for other, more troubled communities in our nation.

All the best,