Public Safety – Policing


Policing is undergoing significant changes and challenges. The national dialog regarding policing methods and the treatment of persons of color has brought to the forefront the problems inherent in a system that has limited checks and balances by the community, and that sometimes requires officers do more than their training can support.

In 2020-21, we had a Comprehensive Management Study completed that evaluated our police department from top to bottom. From that study came 60 key findings and 75 recommendations.

Some of the findings and recommendations included the need to increase data collection, and address the limited community engagement and the ability to build trust within our community, especially with people of color.
The community has also expressed that they want a more robust Community Police Review Board. I support this.

Addressing these 75 recommendations will take a commitment by our officers and our community to make changes for the betterment of our community members and to build the trust that is the foundation of a good relationship.

NEXT STEPS

  1. As a result of the study, the police department will be submitting a plan to the City Commission for implementation of the recommendations by late summer – early fall.
     
  2. We are developing a “Working Group of key stakeholders” to “jointly design a best practices-based system” for our Community Police Review Board. This Working Group will be coordinated by the Assistant City Manager and consist of the Community Police Review Board members, the Chief of Police, a Police Officers’ Association representative, the City Attorney, and at least three minority residents of Lawrence.

In the mean time, we are doing the following for budget year 2022:

                     Reclassifying eight vacant patrol officer positions as follows:

                                  – One Accreditation Analyst

                                  – One Victim Witness Coordinator

                                  – Four non-sworn response members to handle non-emergency calls and reports that don’t require a sworn officer.

                                  – Two positions transferred to the Housing Initiatives Division to address emergency sheltering, rapid rehousing, and homeless                                               outreach.                

These are good first steps, and we must continue to support our officers who want to serve and continuously improve, they deserve our support. In addition, we must stay focused and continue to engage with the community as policy changes are discussed and implemented. “Doing so will require education, training, and new methods of policing with – not to – the community (CityGate report, page 5). As we move towards a more community-based policing model it will require that we enact policies that support policing in this manner and remove policies that work against it.

Paid for by the Lisa Larsen for City Commission campaign, Linda Gwaltney, Treasurer

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