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Rockland to hold forum on police before creating panel

By Stephen Betts | May 04, 2021
Photo by: Stephen Betts Rockland City Council discussed May 3 a proposal to create a citizen oversight panel for the police department.

Rockland — The Rockland City Council will hold a public forum before it creates a community police oversight committee.

The City Council discussed May 3 the creation of the committee but decided to hold a public forum on the subject before they appoint committee members, which may be done in June.

Mayor Ed Glaser said he believes it is important for all the large departments to be reviewed from time to time.

In terms of police oversight, Mayor Ed Glaser, said a number of people contacted him about serving on the committee, but he does not yet have a final list.

"I expect some of the questions may have to do with hiring practices, training, working with mental health services, maybe costs and asking if we have the right sized department for Rockland. I'm hoping the council will reach a consensus on a plan that we can vote on next month," Glaser said May 2.

He said he wants the committee to celebrate what the department does right and to offer assistance for things they do but that other groups might do better.

At the May 3 meeting, resident Dana Crane called for public involvement when the Council negotiates a new labor contract with police. She also called for creation of an independent civilian board to review complaints against police.

Crane said statistics are needed on police calls, stops and arrests to determine if there is any bias in the actions of the department.

Resident Angela McIntyre said May 3 she was excited to see the pending creation of a committee to come up with recommendations. McIntyre also said statistics were needed to adequately review the department's actions.

She said information is needed to determine how police interact with people with mental health or substance abuse issues. She said there are many people who have stories to tell but are not comfortable going to city officials.

McIntyre filed a petition with the Rockland City Council in August 2020 by a group calling for reallocating money from police to social services. That petition gathered 135 local signatures.

In July 2020, McIntyre said "defunding of police cannot happen without also investing in programs that create safety, security and well-being for our communities."

The petition called for an immediate budget increase freeze for law enforcement.

"This is not a demand to immediately eliminate the police department. But it is a commitment to work towards building a city and a budget where police will become obsolete," she said last August.

Supporters of the police department responded to the August petition by gathering over 300 signatures themselves from Rockland residents in support for law enforcement.

Resident Stephen Carroll said May 3 he was not a supporter of de-funding the police department but called for general budget savings.

The Rockland Police Department budget for 2020-2021 was approved at $2,177,000.

The administration's proposed 2021-2022 budget is $2,092,400. The manager is calling for not filling one of four patrol vacancies. The budget also calls for financing $120,893 for the acquisition of body cameras for officers.

Councilor Nate Davis said he was enthusiastic and excited about this endeavor.

"I hope the committee slays a herd of sacred cows," Davis said.

Davis said he wants the committee to look at hiring criteria, use of force data, the complaint process, de-escalation, and civilian oversight.

Councilor Sarah Austin said data is important to determine how successful the department is and track the information over time. Councilor Louise MacLellan agreed accurate data was needed.

Councilor Ben Dorr said this would be a challenging conversation for the community to have but it is needed. He said there may be times when police are called for mental health or drug addiction issues.

"Are they the most appropriate group of people to respond?" Dorr asked.

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Comments (3)
Posted by: Crawford L Robinson | May 05, 2021 11:58

How confusing. Where can we go for the "real news" here in Mayberry in order to achieve far rightism? Sean Insanity and Tuckah for their alternative facts?

Posted by: Stephen K Carroll | May 05, 2021 08:47

Well said Doug, are we creating a solution in search of a problem ?  I think overall we have an excellent police department without many of the issues experienced in other larger communities.  Do NOT believe body cams are necessary in Mayberry.  To answer your question Doug, I think too many people are spending way too much time watching MSNBC, CNN and the other far left "fake news" national media.  I have seen NO evidence to show we have discrimination or bias issues here (unless of course when Troy hands me a parking ticket).  Can we do things better, yes, but do we need 20 people playing "armchair quarterback", no "let sleeping dogs lie"

Posted by: Doug Curtis Jr. | May 04, 2021 22:57

Are we going to create city committees for every department? I would hope proper training and mentorship would solve 99 percent of the problems.  There definitely are some bad apples or some that let power go to their heads. No one should be killed during a minor traffic violation.  What evidence has been shown their is a problem with the Rockland PD? Where is this coming from??  Has anybody talked to the chief about this? Before you create a committee why don't we identify the problem.

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