WRAL reports that in the aftermath of the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer, the police departments in Raleigh, Durham, and Fayetteville generally are adopting policies consistent with the “8 Can’t Wait” campaign which advocates for reduced use of force policing practices. Among the eight policy suggestions is a ban on chokeholds and strangleholds. Keep reading for more on this story and other news.
8 Can’t Wait. Durham Deputy Police Chief Kevin Cates told WRAL that his department believes they already follow the eight suggested practices, which also include using weapons as a last resort and establishing a use of force continuum. Raleigh Police Chief Cassandra Deck-Brown said that her department recently addressed five of the eight recommendations and now will implement a ban on chokeholds, will no longer shoot at moving vehicles, and will commit to de-escalation tactics. The Fayetteville Police Department only permits chokeholds when the use of deadly force is authorized and also requires officers to intervene to stop the use of excessive force by colleagues.
APD. The Asheville Citizen-Times reports that Asheville Police Chief David Zach told the City Council this week that his department plans to “expand our current definition of what constitutes use of force” and that he had determined that use of force incidents were being underreported. The APD has faced criticism in recent weeks of responding to protests with excessive force, including using tear gas and rubber bullets on demonstrators and destroying a medical supply station.
Public Defender Resigns. The Fayetteville Observer reports that Cumberland County Chief Public Defender Bernard Condlin resigned on Wednesday after posting an offensive meme to his personal Facebook page. Condlin apparently posted a photo that showed people being sprayed with water cannons along with the words “The next riot at the Market House.” The words seemingly were a reference to a recent attempt to burn down the Market House building in downtown Fayetteville, a historic public market that is controversial because it was the site of slave auctions in the 1800’s. A fire was set at the building following a protest on May 30. Cynthia P. Black has been appointed as the acting chief public defender.
Defund the Police. In the aftermath of George Floyd’s death, an idea that is sharply dividing public opinion is a call by some to “defund the police,” a deceptively simple slogan that has been used for a broad spectrum of views. The mayor of Minneapolis, Jacob Frey, was shouted out of a protest in that city after telling organizers that he did not support the outright abolishment of the police department. In contrast, nine members of the Minneapolis City Council, a veto-proof majority of that body, pledged their support over the weekend for “dismantling” the department. Minneapolis City Council president Lisa Bender and another council member, Andrea Jenkins, said that the council “will be taking intermediate steps toward ending the MPD through the budget process and other policy and budget decisions over the coming weeks and months.”
As the News & Observer reports, efforts by some citizens in Durham to shift resources from the police department to other city priorities predate the recent nationwide protests sparked by Floyd’s death. Speaking with the N&O, D’atra Jackson, an organizer with Black Youth Project 100 and the Durham Beyond Policing coalition, said that her groups have been focusing on this issue for some time. Jackson asked the Durham City Council in 2016 to “look into divesting from policing and instead funding black futures and investment in black and brown communities.” The N&O piece notes that last year the Durham City Council rejected hiring additional police officers in favor of raising pay for part-time city workers. The piece also notes that earlier this week the Charlotte City Council removed money from its police budget for chemical agents used for crowd control.
Defunding SROs. The Greensboro News & Record reports that the Greensboro City Council surprised Guilford County officials this week by announcing that the city will stop contributing to the school-resource officer program that serves city and county schools in Guilford. The program has run for 20 years. The report says that Guilford County pays the city $1 million annually so that city officers can work as SROs, but the overall cost of the program is about $1.6 million. City officials have announced their intent to stop subsidizing the difference between the overall cost and the county’s contribution.
WRAL also reports that a group of Durham Public School students who are members of the Youth Justice Project are demanding that SROs be removed from their schools. In a statement, Durham Public Schools said that it is proud of its relationship with city and county law enforcement agencies and officers but that it was open to conducting an assessment of the SRO program that has been requested by the student group.
COVID. In a reminder that the coronavirus pandemic has not abated while the nation has turned its attention to issues of systemic racism and disparate policing, the Charlotte Observer noted this week that the Mecklenburg County Jail has reported its first cases of COVID-19 among inmates and that an additional three staff members also have tested positive. The additional cases among staff members brings the total staff members infected to five.