Virtual Meeting Highlights
There were 47 participants in the meeting - including commissioners and staff. There was no time for public comment. Everyone was respectful, allowed to speak and express diverse opinions, etc.
Guests included the new DOJ Monitor Antonio Oftelie, Deputy Monitor Monisha Harrell and Ron Ward, Associate Monitor who were present to provide overview and answer questions. Also, Acting Chief Diaz presented and answered questions.
DOJ/Monitor/City Council/Mayor Updates
DOJ: No update
Monitor: Representatives presented (see below)
Council: No update, no representative present.
Mayor: No update, no representative present.
Presentation by Monitor Representatives
The new DOJ Monitoring team has embarked on a listening tour with partners including OIG, OPA, SC Council, Mayor’s Office and CPC. Monitor is focusing on 3 general areas:
Further discussion ensued following comments made by Reverend Walden and others highlighting that the city is out of compliance and that the new monitor team should be emphasizing SPD officer accountability which is clearly lacking given the issues with crowd control and officer shootings.
Rev. Walden and others noted that policies minimizing accountability put in place with the SPOG 2017 contract have not been fixed and that the crowd management policies from 2015/16 have not been put in place. Other questions such as was the old policy not effective, was it even put in place, were officers adequately trained need to be answered.
Several people emphasized the need for the CPC to be more involved and play a greater role. This was acknowledged and confirmed by the monitor team.
Rev. Walden also brought up the policy on take-down for officers. She is interested in knowing what the system has done to train officers in de-escalation techniques. She noted that every time there is a shooting by an officer – accountability for officers is back to square one.
In response to these and other concerns, the monitor team clearly stated that the new monitor team has been brought in due to this non-compliance. Assessing and improving accountability is the new work. They will look at what has worked and what has not and will use recent incidents as a stress test of sorts of accountability policies already in place. This will permit them to look at all systems from a theoretical and practical perspective. It could be that the system is broken. The consensus appeared to be that the CPC has not been an integral enough part of the oversight.
Concerns were also raised about OIG’s ability to monitor investigations – the thought being that they were only monitoring closed cases. Lisa Judge from OIG clarified that their auditors are auditing OPA open cases.
The monitor team also noted that they have minimal control over the SPOG contract and cannot mandate that specific items be included.
Discussion with Acting SPD Police Chief Diaz.
Chief Diaz is committed to having a strong working relationship with the CPC. He mentioned that there are 2 representatives from SPD on the commission. He looks forward to co-designing community-based alternatives saying that “we can’t arrest our way out of these issues” and that “he prioritizes the sanctity of human life”. He stated that officers are committed to reinventing how they engage with people in the community. He noted it is a challenge for everyone, funding is a concern. He has been reducing expenses including overtime. He shares a common goal with the CPC regarding officer’s wellness and morale and he is open to conversations about how to better that.
Diaz was asked several questions. Questions and responses consolidated below:
1. How is the exodus of police officers from SPD affecting the Department and services?
Chief Diaz noted that his goal was to move 100 officers out of special assignments and onto patrol. That is underway but made more difficult by officers leaving. Morale is low partially because officers are being pulled to cover protests and riots in and there are times when there are not enough officers on the street. He feels that is getting better as he is identified a group that can serve wherever needed in the city. Also working on more time off for officers via 4 days on, 3 days off schedule. He believes many of the departing officers transferring to another law enforcement agency began the process in June/July and since it takes a few months for the transfer to happen, we are seeing more officers leave at once then will in the future.
2. What is happening to address incidence such as the officer rolling bike over person’s neck? How is SPD changing culture?
SPD responded to the incident involving the bicycle within an hour. OPA and OIG are involved. These types of incidences are taken very seriously.
In terms of changing culture – a volunteer community response group is now up and running. OPA is doing more training, for instance 100 officers were brought together on Wednesday for training. Duty to intervene is being emphasized in training. He does not hesitate to terminate people. He has a box on his desk where terminated officers must place their badges and guns. It was noted later in the discussion by Officer Mullins that the practice drives home the seriousness of these incidents to the rank and file as word spreads.
3. What is happening regarding the CPC’s recommendations regarding crowd control? Why are orders to disperse being issued? How are you protecting First Amendment rights given that you are making arrests and the nature of the weapons being employed? How do officers protect themselves?
SPD is collecting data and looking at policies and making immediate and long-term recommendations regarding crowd control and use of weapons. They are training officers on protection of free speech. No tactical weapons have been used, no blast balls since the summer, they are using some level of OC spray when necessary. They are arresting people for property damage; they also must protect other citizens. SPD and officers must figure out ways to separate out those that are intent on violence. Can the community weed people out? SPD is contacting other agencies for ideas.
4. What is your vision for the future in for the role of the CPC? (This question began with an acknowledgement that Chief Diaz is a good human.)
Chief Diaz feels that relationships between officers and the community are very important and moving officers back into the community is a tactic he is employing to create those relationships, He wants officers to be engaged and be a part of the community they serve. It will take around 6 months to establish that, he has an advisory council of assistant Chiefs overseeing the plan. He mentioned that they have been doing roll calls in the community – this was an idea initiated by officers. One major issue facing the communities and the police is youth violence – it is not just a police issue.
5. What does accountability look like to you and who holds you accountable?
Diaz responded that everyone holds him accountable. He said he has had difficult discussions; he has had to terminate people and discipline people as well as reward. He must do the right thing, he will be active and engaged in the community, he said the community drives the expectations of his position.
Governance Committee: The revised CPC by laws are with the City Attorney’s Office Committee for review. They are still working on a Request for Proposals for a Strategic Plan for CPC. The search process for the CPC execute director was rolled out.
Community Outreach Committee: At the last meeting there were 4 commissioners and 19 community members. They are looking a different means to reach out.
Defund Workgroup: On hold, Commissioner not at CPC meeting. Commissioner will reach out to group.
Legislative and Accountability Committee: Committee members meeting with the City Attorney’s Office to see if the CPC can pursue their own legislative agenda, separate from the City.
Brief discussion about vacancies on CPC. Staff said they are reaching out via social media, making a video and linking to the application process on the CPC website.
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