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Mayor, Police Chief Agree with Citizens Commission on Police Accountability

Wednesday November 12, 2003

Mayor Jerry Abramson and Police Chief Robert White said today that they agree with the recommendations of the Citizens Commission on Police Accountability and have already taken steps to implement most of the policy suggestions.

The recommendations for improvement include: Establishing a clear use of force policy;

Requiring officers to carry at least one non-lethal weapon while on duty;

Requiring training in non-lethal and less than lethal force alternatives;

Requiring periodic diversity training and also training that focuses on persons with mental

illness, developmental disabilities, substance abuse and domestic violence.

“I’m truly impressed – and heartened – that Chief White, a veteran administrator, and the Citizens Commission, a diverse group of lay people, reviewed the same investigation and came to many of the same conclusions about how to reduce the likelihood of tragedies,” Abramson said. “It means that we picked the right man to lead this department and that we’ve put in place a process that ensures citizens have a real, meaningful role in holding their police department accountable and improving safety in our community.”

The Citizens Commission on Police Accountability was created as part of a series of reforms announced by Abramson and White in February in the wake of the shooting death last year of James Taylor. The five-point reform plan focused on improving public confidence in police investigations of deadly force cases and increasing safety for citizens and police officers.

White implemented many of the reforms earlier this year in the aftermath of the Taylor

shooting, including a new use-of-force policy, requirements that officers carry non-lethal weapons and increased diversity training.
 
The 11-member commission, a diverse group of citizens chaired by attorney Laura Douglas, has met more than 20 times to review the police investigation of the Taylor case.

“I want to thank them for their unselfish work, and in particular the leadership of Laura Douglas, the commission chairwoman,” Abramson said of commission members. “They have exhibited the true qualities of citizenship.”