Montpelier’s Police Review Committee will hold a public Zoom meeting Monday, April 5, to hear community input on the future of public safety and policing in Montpelier. The meeting begins at 4:30 p.m.
The Montpelier City Council established the committee in October 2020, which operates in collaboration with the Social and Economic Justice Committee. As in communities across the nation, policing is an established community service that is being evaluated and potentially redesigned.
Alyssa Schuren, chairperson of the eight-member Police Review Committee, said that the solicitation of broad community response is the next step in a “data-driven approach” to enhancing equity and public safety. Research to date has included focus group meetings with a variety of stakeholders and constituencies that interact with the police, “including the police themselves,” she explained.
In addition to reviewing the history of policing in Montpelier, data concerning everything from traffic stops and arrests to incidents of use of force is being analyzed. “We have 25 topics to be narrowed through refinement and through the lens of what the public cares about, and stakeholders care about,” Schuren said.
Since the launch of the Montpelier Equity Assessment, approximately 80 people from several constituencies have participated in the focus groups. In addition to the city’s emergency services staff, those groups have included people from many life circumstances and experiences. “We are doing robust outreach to people with disabilities, the unhoused, the formerly incarcerated, LGBTQ, sex workers, BIPOC, and city staff,” she noted.
Schuren acknowledged that while the Police Review Committee has no person of color among its members, reliance on outreach from BIPOC communities has been successful. In addition to city council members Jack McCullough and Lauren Hierl, the committee’s membership includes Alyssa Schuren, Jen Duggan, Michael Sherman, Daniel Towle, Abbey Jermyn, and Justin Drechsler.
The April 5 meeting will be prior to the release of a community-wide survey designed to solicit additional community input and perspective. That survey will be conducted as part of a $10,000 contract with Essex, Vt. based Creative Discourse. Founded in 2009, the company works with “municipalities, school districts, and organizations in Vermont and New England to design and implement productive processes that lead to change, and to help people build their awareness and capacity to apply a racial equity lens to their community or organizations,” their website reports.
Cameron Niedermayer, Montpelier Assistant City Manager, noted that the contract with Creative Discourse is through the Social and Economic Justice Committee, which has been working closely with the Police Review Committee. She indicated the city administration hopes to continue the contract beyond this current budget year.
To access the meeting online or by phone via Zoom: https://zoom.us/j/96781976356?pwd=eHduSC9ETnc5SHZocFhZZDZKRmw3Zz09 Meeting ID: 967 8197 6356 Passcode: 156959 Call in: +1 929 205 6099 US
About the committee
On October 28, 2020, the Montpelier City Council established the Police Review Committee and charged that committee with:
· Reviewing the historic functions of Montpelier Police Department.
· Reviewing modern policing trends and practices, such as those embodied in the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing and other reference materials.
· Meeting with community stakeholders for feedback on the role and function of the Montpelier Police Department.
· Reviewing existing historic law enforcement data for trends, significant issues, and other observations or conclusions that are relevant to current and future planning and funding of the Montpelier Police Department.
· Reviewing and analyzing the functions of the Montpelier Police Department, its existing policies, and helping create the Department’s current strategic plan.
· Compiling the information into a report to be delivered to the city council by June 30, 2021. The report will include recommendations for this committee’s future charge and function.