March 14, 2016 RE: City of Raleigh’s Consideration of Police Body Worn Cameras Dear Mayor McFarlane and Members of the Raleigh City Council, I am writing on behalf of the Police Accountability Community TaskForce (PACT). PACT is a coalition of community-based groups, community leaders, and non-profit organizations committed to human rights. We came together in the summer of 2015 because we knew from personal experience the need for policies that create accountability to community, equity, and transparency in policing. We are prepared to work with anyone in the community who wants to end racial profiling, selective enforcement, excessive force and harassment by police. Our diverse and growing coalition is made up of: Fair Share CDC A. Phillip Randolph Institute - Raleigh Black Workers For Justice ACLU Of North Carolina Mary Magdalene Ministries Education Justice Alliance
HBCU Student Action Alliance Coalition Of Concerned Citizens For African American Children U Can Complain Justice Served/Bring Back the Village Save Our Sons
We are aware that on the day that Akiel Denkins died, the Raleigh Police Department was scheduled to make a presentation in front of the City Council about body camera technology. That presentation has been rescheduled for March 15th and we are eager to listen to that presentation and work closely with the city, community, and our partners to ensure that the implementation of this technology in our city promotes transparency and accountability rather than create an additional surveillance tool. We believe that for body cameras to build trust, create accountability and transparency, and serve the public, body cameras must come accompanied with detailed policies that (1) provide clear directives for when to activate body cameras; (2) grant the public reasonable access to the footage; (3) clarify data retention mandates; and (4) specify disciplinary consequence for violating policies. Additionally, PACT believes that body cameras should never be used to negate the public’s right to film the police. The ACLU of NC, one of our coalition partners, has provided this body with more details on each of these points which we strongly urge you to consider. PACT does not support the implementation of body cameras without policies such as these attached to them. Even with extensive policies governing their proper implementation, body cameras are just one tool to build a culture of accountability, equity, and transparency in our city. The lack of trust in police and
evidence of racial disparities in the ways people in our community experience policing is a crisis in democracy that can only be rectified with policy reforms that put the power in the hands of community members. PACT’s recommendations address that issue at its core. While no single policy will address all our challenges, PACT believes that the recommendations attached, presented to the Human Relations Commission last week, represent a significant step forward. As we work through this process, we respectfully ask you share with the public (1) what state and federal grants the Raleigh Police Department has applied for or plans to apply for in order to subsidize a body camera program for Raleigh and (2) what other means of funding are proposed to fund the program. We also welcome the opportunity to discuss our policy recommendations and provide further information. You can reach us at the email and number provided below. Sincerely, Akiba Byrd On behalf of the Police Accountability Community Task Force firstname.lastname@example.org 919-940-0050 OVERVIEW OF OUR POLICY RECOMMENDATIONS ACCOUNTABILITY 1. Work to create a Community Oversight Board that has power to investigate, subpoena, and discipline the police when there is injustice. 2. Strengthen the department’s anti-bias policing policy with real, regular checks on officers’ stop-and-search data. EQUITY 3. Improve officer training and expand Crisis Intervention Training. 4. End the bias in stops and searches by requiring written consent-to-search forms. 5. End the biased enforcement of marijuana policy by deprioritizing marijuana enforcement. TRANSPARENCY 6. Implement a body-worn camera program that protects people’s rights, privacy and access. COMMUNITY POLICING 7. Implement an internship program to recruit and retain officers of color. 8. Increase opportunities for positive relationships between community and police. OUR DETAILED POLICY RECOMMENDATIONS TO THE CITY COUNCIL ACCOUNTABILITY Pass a resolution asserting the council’s public support for a strong and representative Community Oversight Board. To balance the scale of power and give the community the power to investigate, subpoena, and discipline police when there is injustice, we propose the creation of a Community Oversight Board like the one in Newark, N.J.
This is a common sense way to strengthen accountability and trust. Complaints are filed with, investigated by and decided on by an Internal Affairs division within the department, staffed by officers within the department. With a system like that, it’s clear why people are uncomfortable filing a complaint and apprehensive that investigators would have the distance to fulfill this important check on the system. The Council’s support of an external Community Oversight Board with the power to investigate, subpoena, and discipline, would communicate to the community that if they complain their case would be justly investigated. Strengthen the department’s anti-bias policing policy by including meaningful accountability mechanisms. Bias, racial or otherwise, does not have to be intentional to cause harm, erode trust, and render a department ineffective. A. Disparate impact: Amend the department’s non-biased policing policy to hold Raleigh Police Department accountable for patterns of policing that have disparate impact on particular communities based on race, ethnicity, religion, national origin, immigration status, age, housing status, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity/gender expression, disability, and HIV status. B. Regular review: Officers, precinct, and departments should be subject to an annual review to look for disparate impact. Officer’s results should be compared to similarly assigned officers. The results of the annual review should factor into officer, precinct, and departmental-level performance evaluations and inform development of policy to address disparities. Violations of the ban on biased policing should result in disciplinary actions, remedial training, and impact performance appraisals. C. Suspicion: Amend the department’s non-biased policing policy to hold the Raleigh Police Department accountable to a consistent threshold of suspicion across the city. EQUITY End the bias in stops and searches. D. Require written consent-to-search forms prior to any search and pat downs that is not based on probable cause, and prior to any search for weapons that is not based on reasonable suspicion. Forms should be available in Spanish and English and require the officer note their name and badge number. The individual and officer should both receive a copy of the form. E. Require a justification for a search that is more than “nervousness”, “presence in a high crime area,” “prior criminal record,” or “suspicious behavior,” all of which have been shown to be highly correlated with race. Department of Justice data shows that these community members have disproportionate contact with police officer (they’re stopped more). For so many of Raleigh’s black and Latino community members a routine encounter with a police officer can become a traumatic experience that results in an unnecessary, invasive searches. This happens because the individual doesn’t know that they have the right to refuse consent search. A consent to search form that clearly states their right to refuse a search, like the ones implemented in Durham, Charlotte, and Fayetteville would require that an individual sign their consent rather than give it verbally. End the biased enforcement of marijuana policy by deprioritizing marijuana enforcement. To decrease the use of marijuana enforcement as an excuse to search or target people of color, we propose the deprioritization of marijuana.
National studies show that black and white people use marijuana at equal rates. However, Wake County marijuana arrest data proves that it’s black people who are going to jail for possession of lowlevel of marijuana at significantly higher rates. The selective enforcement of marijuana drug policy is landing high numbers of black and brown youth in jails. Beyond that, we’ve know that the suspicion of marijuana use is the basis for disproportionate searches of people of color in our community. For these reasons, marijuana should become the department’s lowest level law-enforcement priority. A UNC legal scholar has assured PACT that it is well within the scope of a locality to make the decision to stop pursuing these cases that are to the detriment of whole communities. Expand the number of Crisis Intervention-trained officers and the amount of time dedicated to deescalation and communication training. To maximize the number of officers who are experts in handling situations without reaching for their weapon and in identifying individuals who are having a mental health episode, we propose an expansion of the Crisis Intervention Training program and an increase in the time dedicated to deescalation and communication training. Every law enforcement encounter has the potential to escalate and become dangerous if not handled properly by the trained law enforcement professional. Crisis Intervention training prepares officers to detect and handle situations where an individual is having a mental health episode. RPD officers receive some de-escalation and communication training during academy but not sufficient relative to the amount of hours dedicated to other topics. We recommend a dramatic expansion of Crisis Intervention training and an increase in the time dedicated to de-escalation and communication training. Implement a body-worn camera program that includes detailed policies to protect the rights and privacy of community members. To ensure that the community has the tools to challenge the word of police officers, we propose the implementation of body worn cameras. Raleigh has taken steps toward this goal. It is essential that the city accept our recommendations for detailed policies to accompany this new technology that protects the community’s privacy, right to film the police, and access to the footage. Body-worn cameras protect community and officers if implemented adequately. Proper implementation means policies protecting community privacy and others ensuring officers keep the camera rolling at all times, for example. They are a financial investment that increase transparency and trust that many major North Carolina cities like Greensboro, Charlotte, and Durham have all made room for in their budgets. A. Clear Directives for When to Activate Body Cameras. Officers should not be allowed to decide when and where to begin, pause, or stop recording. If they are, any check on police power and communities’ ability to trust that the recording captures what really occurred is greatly diminished. Policies should also direct officers to use their body cameras only when engaging with individuals rather than continuously record throughout their shifts. This ensures that body cameras will not be used as tools of mass surveillance, and also protects individual police officers’ privacy while on breaks. B. Reasonable Public Access Policies. At the very least, people recorded by body cameras should be able to view and have access to those recordings upon request. Recordings that contain footage of public interest—when officer conduct or use of force is called into question, for
exampleâ€”should be made public, with sufficient privacy protections in place. Policies should be readily available on the RPD website, and should provide details on how the public can request access to footage. C. Clear Data Retention Mandates. How long RPD maintains the recordings should depend on whether they contain important evidence or other public interest value. Recordings that hold some public or law enforcement value, like capturing an arrest that results in charges or capturing an altercation between an officer and a member of the public, should be flagged for longer retention. Those that do not should be quickly deleted. D. Disciplinary Consequences for Violating Policies. In order to ensure proper use of body cameras and guard against abuse, policies should specify additional training opportunities and disciplinary consequences for officers who repeatedly misuse body cameras and improperly handle body camera recordings. COMMUNITY POLICING Implement an internship program in partnership with Shaw Universityâ€™s criminal justice department to recruit and retain officers of color. A diverse workforce is an asset but not the solution to inequitable policing. In working toward a diverse force, the department should partner with Shaw University, a local Historically Black University with a criminal justice program, to create an internship pipeline of students who are likely to stay here and are already embedded in the community. Require daytime engagement/patrol activities for officers primarily on nighttime patrol. Increase the amount of foot patrol hours by a mutually agreed upon percentage by an agreed upon date. We believe in community policing as a strategy to ensure that police officers are getting to know the communities they are entrusted to serve and protect not fear. Increased daytime engagement for officers that serve primarily on nighttime patrol would allow officers to see those neighborhoods literally in a different light. Increasing foot patrol hours would get officers out of their cars and into the community.