The Community Safety Working Group (CSWG) has been meeting weekly throughout the summer. Here is a summary of their activities throughAugust 12.
Resident Oversight Board
CSWG is nearing completing its recommendations for a Residents’ Oversight Board. The draft document can be viewed here (beginning on page 2 of the packet). Recently added was an updated list of National Association for Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement (NACOLE) principles. CSWG co-chairs Ellisha Walker and Brianna Owen plan to ask Police Chief Scott Livingstone if there are things he’d like to add or possibly revise.
Why Majority BIPOC and Why Stipend Documents
The committee agreed that the Why BIPOC document (beginning on page 8 of the packet) should be included with the Resident Oversight Board document when it is shared with Chief Livingstone. The Why Stipend document, which is more for the Town Manager and Town Council, is still under revision.
Members Pat Ononibaku and Owen are preparing a document for the upcoming CSWG meeting on 8/26 to discuss traffic control.
CRESS Implementation Follow-up
The draft job description for the CRESS (Civilian Response For Equity Safety and Service) director has gone to the town’s Human Relations Department and CSWG hopes to have it back expeditiously for revisions and posting.
We have set a date for the first community forum on the implementation of CRESS for 9/9/2021 at 7 p.m. Community members and social service agencies have been reaching out to Walker and Owen and are eager to be a part of the CRESS Implementation. This forum will give community members a chance to join us and tell us their thoughts on implementing CRESS. We are hoping we can do in-person forums in a variety of complexes throughout Amherst but the zoom forum will be our first, we are thinking weekends may be the best time for in-person forums.
Fire Chief Nelson shared with us that his department is short 10 people and is wondering if there is room for cross-training incoming CRESS Responders (Four CRESS Responders would be medics/firefighters/ and trained for CRESS), the consensus of the group was to table the idea of collaboration until we know how frequently we are likely to need medics (from LEAP (Law Enforcement Action Partnership) data). There was frustration around this topic because although we want to help the Fire Department and it may make sense to collaborate, we are already running on a tight budget for CRESS this year and we do not want to short staff CRESS.
CSWG briefly brainstormed some ways the ARPA (American Rescue Plan Act) funds could help the community post-COVID. We brainstormed money going to translation services, transportation for individuals to get groceries, money for an ambassador program, first-time homebuyer assistance, etc.
We had a discussion on burnout. As we go on with our work we have been missing members and people are fatigued. At the end of every meeting, we will discuss whether we will be meeting weekly or bi-weekly and are considering pushing the meeting starts to 6 p.m.
Walker and Owen met with Town Manager Paul Bockelman. He is on board with hiring Dr. Barbara Love as a consultant. He is willing to be flexible on November dates with CSWG’s presentation & report.