Saturday, June 13, 2020

Brunswick Town Council Proposed Statement on Criminal Justice and Policing

At it's upcoming meeting on Monday, 15 June, the Town Council will discuss and presumably adopt this statement on Criminal Justice and Policing, possibly as amended during the meeting.

Side is currently at work on a response, and will submit it to the Council and others no later than tomorrow (Sunday.)

Statement on Criminal Justice and Policing

The Brunswick Town Council condemns the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis. We also condemn the murders of Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia and Breonna Taylor in Kentucky before him. Mr. Floyd’s murder and the protests it ignited are a flashpoint in the long-standing battle against systemic racism in our criminal justice system and country at large. The protests have shone a light on systemic racism and the current and historically disparate treatment of African Americans and people of color in our country.

We as a Council support and commit to calling out hate and discrimination when we see it and help promote our core American value that no one should be targeted because of their identity.  Hate will not be tolerated here in Brunswick and we will stand together to fight any form of bigotry, discrimination, or hate, in speech or action, against any group, from whatever the source.

Condemning Mr. Floyd’s senseless murder is not enough. The true challenge is changing the entrenched and unjust racism that pervades our society as a whole and our criminal justice system specifically. We must commit ourselves to working on ways in which we can engage our communities to address and uproot institutionalized racism and implicit bias and offer spaces for dialogue, trainings, and understanding.

There can be no overnight change to the inequities in our system, but concrete steps can be made. A functioning criminal justice system requires the fair and humane treatment of everyone at every stage of the process: on the street during an arrest, in the courthouse, and in jails and prisons. We believe the following are the beginning steps to accomplish this:
Police departments must treat all allegations of misconduct against officers seriously and handle investigations with accountability and transparency.
The State should maintain a database of complaints against officers that can be viewed by the public.
Police departments should regularly review this database and terminate police officers with a history of excessive force and racial insensitivity.
The State must mandate training and continuing education for all police agency personnel on racism, implicit bias and use of force.
Every police officer in Maine should be required to wear a body camera that cannot be turned off at the officer’s discretion.

This is the bare minimum of what is required to maintain the public’s trust in law enforcement. We look forward to hearing from our Police Department, the current command staff and our incoming Chief of Police Scott Stewart to hearing their recommendations on the steps needed to move forward to reassure our citizens that the Brunswick Police Department hears its voices and concerns. Members of our community have raised their voices and it is time for our law enforcement agencies and our State leaders to join us in efforts to end the excessive use of force, racial insensitivity and police misconduct here in Maine. The excessive force, violence, and unequal treatment must end.

As public servants we have an even greater responsibility to speak out against racism,
discrimination, bias, and hatred because when the unacceptable becomes the norm in our society, human rights for all are threatened. It is our duty to maintain constant vigilance with regard to its own public safety policies and actions and do everything in its power to make certain that Brunswick is and will remain a welcoming town opposed to acts of racism and bigotry.  We affirm and are committed to protect the rights of all people, including the Black Lives Matter Movement, and justice allies and activists in our community who speak up and protest and demand justice for all. Black lives matter to the town of Brunswick.

This statement was adopted by the Town Council at its meeting on June 15, 2020.

_________________________________     _________________________________
John Perreault, Chair                                      James Mason, Vice Chair

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