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The Voice of the Black Community

Local & State

Activists want law enforcement held to account on uprising response
SAFE Coalition chides report on CMPD rules
 
Published Wednesday, February 21, 2018 12:00 pm
by Herbert L. White

PHOTO | HERBERT L. WHITE
SAFE Coalition NC state organizer Robert Dawkins addresses the media Tuesday in response to a report on Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police’s handling of unrest after the Keith Scott shooting.

An alliance of activist groups slammed a report on how Charlotte-Mecklenburg police handled protests following the Keith Scott shooting as money wasted.

SAFE Coalition NC criticized the 103-page Advancing Charlotte report released last week, which assessed the response to the 2016 uprising. The Police Foundation, which authored the study, found CMPD generally followed procedure and made recommendations on how the department can improve its response. SAFE Coalition, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg NAACP, Action NC and Seeking Justice Consortium maintain many of those suggestions have already been initiated.


“On the whole, for $375,000, the main recommendations for this report are stuff that CMPD has implemented,” said Robert Dawkins, SAFE Coalition NC’s state organizer. “Some of the stuff they requested has been implemented three years ago. I don’t know if there was a breakdown when they were looking over positive suggestions to make for CMPD that weren’t already in play. That was one of our major issues.”

NAACP President Rev. Corine Mack credited CMPD with how it handled “the first seven days” of unrest, but wants long-term solutions to why the deadly police-civilian confrontation took place.

“At the end of the day, we’re looking for real change,” she said. “We’re looking for the city to come together. I am requesting a full investigations of all policies – how they are being laid out, how they are implemented and that all officers are following those policies.”

Dawkins said the Police Foundation report missed an opportunity to dig deeper into underlying causes of the uprising as well as a chance to reach out for local citizens’ recommendations.  

“We think we as advocates would have been upfront with CMPD on things we think they should do,”  Dawkins said. “Over the past year, we’ve made at least five suggestions to CMPD with things we saw need to be done, and even with this report concluded, they still need to be done.”

The Citizens Review Board made suggestions after the Scott shooting, including asking CMPD to scientifically validate officers’ response time before engaging in lethal force after ordering civilians to comply with commands. Another idea backed by SAFE Coalition NC and City Council was giving the CRB subpoena authority to call witnesses and examine evidence in complaints against police.

“We want accountability and we want community oversight,” Dawkins said. “That’s never reflected. We have an oversight board which needs real empowerment for real oversight.”

A bill granting subpoena power to the board died in the Republican-controlled General Assembly last year.

“That means you can’t introduce the bill this year, but it doesn’t mean you can’t spend this next year lobbying and building connections to ask the General Assembly to give Charlotte subpoena power for its Citizens Review Board.

Other commitments SAFE Coalition NC want include:

• Upgrade anti-bias training and cultural awareness to the Citizens Academy curriculum as well as CRB members.

• CMPD updates to holster monitors for officers’ service pistols and tasers that automatically activate body cameras of all officers with a designated radius of a drawn weapon. Rock Hill and Columbia, S.C. are testing the equipment.

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