The last three weeks have been filled with sorrow for the family of George Floyd and our black community. There have also been feelings of frustration, rage, and hopelessness with the criminal justice system and how the police do their jobs. With his funeral last week we were given the chance to say our final goodbyes to George and now move forward with the hard work of creating change.
Columbia Heights, let’s take our grief and point it towards action. Naturally, we want our leadership to take immediate steps, but thoughtful preparation is the best approach. That is why I’ve spent the last several weeks researching the facts, understanding our city’s current stance, and weighing the available options.
As Mayor, I will sign the Mayors Commit to Action Pledge by the Obama Foundation. This pledge calls on cities to review their use of force policies, report its findings publicly, and seek community feedback within 90 days of signing the pledge. But this is only a small, first step towards changing the way we keep our community safe.
Beyond the pledge, the Columbia Heights Police Department began working on Obama’s President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing in 2015; a thorough and detailed system of community policing that includes public input, civilian oversight, funding for social services, officer accountability, and much more. As Mayor, I will work with city staff, the city council, and the community to continue implementing these improvements to our public safety system.
Even as a candidate, I have already started this work.
I began my community involvement as our neighborhood block captain in 2014, participated in the Police Citizens Academy in 2019, and have built a strong rapport with many of our officers. I’m also a nerd who actually reads the CHPD annual reports and the Use of Force policy as it stands today.
Organizing diverse volunteers means I am always working hard to connect with people from different social and cultural backgrounds. So is officer Justin Pletcher, who brought together the police and the community leaders in an outreach program called the CHPD Multicultural Advisory Committee (MAC). This is an excellent start towards collaborative public safety, and I’m looking at even more ways to engage our community.
I know you want to help too! Let me know if you’d like to join the MAC, or are interested in another area of the 21st Century Policing effort. Our city staff, police, and other community groups are open to working with more concerned citizens of Columbia Heights, so let’s join them!