Wednesday, December 7, 2011

December 2 Kick-Off Event: Off to a Great Start

On Friday, December 2, 2011, we held our inaugural event: a community forum on local policing. People came out to hear some terrific panelists talk about community/police relations, and to talk to each other about Bainbridge Island policing. The (lovely) room at Flowering Around was filled to capacity, and then some. People want to speak, and speak to each other about policing; even with 45 minutes of audience q and a we couldn’t call on many who wished to participate.  The audience was diverse: seniors, professionals, politicians, activists. 

The tone of panelists and audience members was positive and respectful. The theme of the evening was citizen responsibility. We heard comment after comment, from panelists and audience members, about the need for citizens to take ownership in their police department—by becoming more educated about policing, serving as bridges between the community and department, understanding crime, or setting priorities. People want to see their Chief at an event like this. Audience members were glad he was invited, and regretted his absence. People want information. Panelist Scott Anderson’s numbers on calls for police service, average officer cost per call for service, referral of cases for prosecution and the prosecutor’s decline to prosecute rate drew the most questions from audience members. There are many resources available to us if we want more collaborative policing. We heard from panelists about established models of civilian oversight (and a nonprofit called NACOLE that promotes them), and about a growing list of best practices for improving community/police relationships. 

Special thanks to our facilitator Mike Gaffney (WSU) and panelists Trisha King-Stargel (Seattle U), Toby Nixon (Washington Coalition for Open Government), Eddie Aubrey (former director of Fresno's Office of Independent Police Review) and Scott Anderson (former detective, BIPD) for their presentations. The company of our panelists shows that there are incredibly qualified people nearby who will to help us think issues through.