Well. It's comprehensive. I'll say that. But, for all that, it
still represents the views of only two of the parties involved - the
Police, and their immediate supervisors.
If we want, as a community, to understand all of the facts, and truly
begin the process of healing and avoiding similar situations in the
future, we need an independent commission to examine all of the facts
and the protocols, and receive input from all of the parties involved,
along with concerned citizens.
That independent review can not be undertaken by bodies which are
appointed by, answer to, or consist of folks with ties to the Police and
their immediate supervisors.
It is not merely bald facts we should be seeking, but a rebuilding of
trust. Of the community in its Police forces, its elected oficials, and
those appointees who have day-to-day oversight of law enforcement in
But also of our Police in those who hold responsibility for their
activities. One of the most distressing (for me) aspects of this whole
episode has been my perception that those who should have been answering
questions and taking responsibility for law enforcement (which,of its
nature, should remain apolitical), have (for the most part, but with
some notable exceptions) stood aside and behind their staff, and have
left law enforcement in the firing line. This is not political
leadership as I would define it.
Those we task to endure daily danger to serve and protect us, deserve
our support when they follow what should be our clear orders. We must
determine if the orders were clear on this occasion, and whether or not
law enforcement received the measure of support they deserve. So that,
moving forward, they may feel a full bond of trust in elected officials,
appointed citizens and our community generally.[Damon, I have taken your lead (you posted a comment on Jim Neal's thread, and then began this thread on the same subject) and have posted this comment on both threads. I trust that is ok with the Editorial Panel? Ah. I see that the formatting problem exists even when one copies from OP to OP! Sorry.]
"The actions of the on-scene police commanders on November 13 were the best decisions that could be
made given the information available at the time." Where's the question (and answer) as to why no attempt was made to get additional information?
I read the manager's opinion, but I don't see a review. A review would address best practices and how the actions taken align (or not) to those best practices or policing standards. This is disappointing, but not surprising. The manager wouldn't be very good at his job if he wasn't loyal to his staff. That's why he (and the council) should have supported an independent review.
Thanks for pointing me toward this document Damon. The police chief's report is very helpful in understanding the sequence of events and the thought processes used by the police. But like the manager's document, this is not a review. It's a report. A review would look at the incident from multiple perspectives, compare actions taken against best practices, and arrive at conclusions that extend beyond the police department to include the actions of the manager and mayor/council.While these two reports are very useful, I stand behind Jim Neal's request from an independent review, not because I don't believe what was written in these two reports, but because I believe the air within the town and among various interest groups will be cleaner with a thorough review by an independent, knowledgeable person/group.
I have this morning sent the following e-mail to Mayor Kleinschmidt, his fellow Town Councilors and the Chapel Hill Town Manager, Roger Stancil:"Dear Mayor Kleinschmidt,I write to urge you now to task Jim Neal with forming his Independent Commission, so that the Commission may investigate, as that Commission sees fit, the facts surrounding the Yates Garage incident, the rationale for the use of SERT, and its context.Roger Stancil’s Report represents the opinion of only two of the parties involved in that unfortunate incident – the Police, and their immediate employed supervisors. No sensible person would expect Roger to be other than loyal to his staff.An unbiased airing of the views of the other participants – those arrested; the passers-by flung to the ground; the citizenry who had to endure national press coverage of the sight of assault rifles on the streets of our quiet community – can only occur within the context of an independent review.That airing is required not only to get to all of the facts, but also to begin the process of rebuilding trust. Trust in our Police, in their employers and in the elected officials and appointed citizens who are supposed to exercise oversight of law enforcement.But also the trust of our Police in those who hold responsibility for their activities. One of the most distressing (for me) aspects of this whole episode has been my perception that those who should have been answering questions and taking responsibility for law enforcement (which, of its nature, should remain apolitical), have (for the most part, but with some notable exceptions) stood aside and behind their staff, and have left law enforcement in the firing line. This is not political leadership as I would define it.What struck me, as I read Roger’s Report and its Attachments, was how often he and Chief Blue demanded that they accept full responsibility for deploying SERT. That should not have to be the case. It is you, your fellow Councilors, and the citizenry sitting on the two oversight Boards appointed by the Town Council, who should be standing in front of their employees, and accepting responsibility for their actions.As comprehensive as Roger’s Report appears to be, there are many questions as to the tactics employed. I do not address those here. I leave that to the Independent Commission. However, there is almost no mention of strategy, Rules of Engagement, protocols or best practices. Those are not set by staff or by the Police. They are, or should be, set by elected officials and their appointees.The people of Chapel Hill and Carrboro have the right to know what are those best practices. Do they exist? Were they sufficient? Were they followed? If not, why not? And it is not clearly not appropriate for an employee, even one as senior as Roger, to be asking those questions of his bosses.It is equally inappropriate for those responsible to be asking the questions of themselves. Again, I venture that the citizens of your Town will only feel comfortable if those questions are asked by a body that is truly and completely independent of the Town Council, its appointees and its employees. And that comfort will only take hold if those responsible – you, your fellow Councilors, the Town Council’s appointees and employees – freely and willingly agree to answer those questions.Mark, this coming week, all good progressives will be celebrating the memory of Martin Luther King and his tremendous achievement in helping to heal the huge divide in our country caused by racial discrimination and segregation; a divide that found especial expression in our community.Let’s not mark the occasion by turning our back on a new divide that has arisen over the Yates Garage incident. Mark, I believe you have the progressive instinct and the political courage necessary to take a bold step to begin the process of healing in our community. Please ask your fellow Councilors to task Jim Neal with forming his Independent Commission.All the best,Geoff Gilson"
Damon lives in Carrboro and is a member of the Carrboro Board of Aldermen.
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