It these days when news stories of the tragic killing of African Americans in encounters with police and ensuing unrest are all too common, there is major good news on the police/community front right here in West Virginia.
At a press conference today, the Charleston Police Department along with community allies (including AFSC and our partners such as Our Children Our Future, the WV Coalition Against Domestic Violence and others) announced the rollout of a very ambitious program aimed at easing racial tensions and promoting police community relations.
Among the proposed action steps are these:
*Implementing De-Escalation training to prevent violence whenever possible.
*Publishing monthly arrest statistics across race, age, gender and cause of arrest to promote transparency.
*Introducing body camera technology in November, which will protect both police and citizens.
*Launching a Youth Advisory Council this month to be made up of about 10 young people, ages 18-25 of different races, who will meet with officers to discuss recommendations to improve community-police relationships.
*Holding anti-racism training for all officers.
*Conducting roll call presentations so that officers can meet and hear from Charleston leaders.
*Presenting a new annual Community Service Award to recognize officers for meeting community policing standards.
*Advocating state policy changes to address re-entry and recidivism to give ex-offenders a chance to be a productive citizen.
This is pretty huge. Congratulations to all involved and here's hoping for a successful implementation. This could be a model for the nation.