Public Comment: Toward Building Trust In The Police Chief Search Process


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by Ali Wicks-Lim, Lamikco Magee, and Martha Toro for the Ad Hoc LGBTQIA+, Black ,and Latinx Caucuses of Amherst.

The following statement was read at the evening public listening session for the Amherst police chief search held on Septermber 12, 2023.

The ad hoc Black, LGBTQIA+ and Latinx Caucuses of Amherst are unified in our commitment to advocating for accountability, equity and transparency in all places where power is held and people are impacted, including the Amherst Police Department. In an effort to protect the safety and wellbeing of marginalized people in the Amherst community we make the following asks about the process and selection of a new police chief.

Asks Related To The Search/ Process

1. Paul Bockelman cannot determine who sits on the hiring committee. A democratic process is needed to determine who sits on the committee.  

2. The police chief should not report to the town manager. He is appointed. They should report to the Town Council who is an elected body.

3. There must be a way to ensure equal access to this process. There must be representation on a hiring committee inclusive of gender, race, age, socio-economic, etc.

4. Paul Bockelman should not unilaterally making the final hiring decision. The voices of those on the hiring committee should determine who the Chief will be. The process should involve some sort of collective consensus/ rating system that determines who the clear top candidates/finalists are for the position.

5. Doing an extensive background check to ensure that this person is who they appear to be. This should include a plan to go to neighborhoods where the finalists work and see what people’s thoughts/ interactions// experiences have been.

6. We want a public forum in which the finalist can answer questions and interact with people in real time before any final determination is made.There should be time after the forum for members of the public to provide feedback for the hiring committee to review before any final decision is made.

Asks Related To The Chief Themself

1.) Commitment to transparency with demographic data collection that the public can easily access on the town website. 

2.) Commitment to a reduction of police department size and budget. 

3.) Support for the Residential Oversight Board that will provide oversight for the Amherst Police Department.

4.) Experience building trust and confidence among marginalized groups.

5.) Willingness to ensure equitable language access to residents to improve trust and cooperation.

6.) Commitment to communicating with the public promptly and following a process with transparency and accountability whenever there is a complaint of police misconduct or a police misconduct incident involving the public. 

7.) Commitment to supporting restorative justice and warnings instead of arrests.

8.) Commitment to refraining from a predetermined number (quota) of tickets to generate revenue unrelated to safety issues. 

9.) Commitment to reforming policies and procedures that target low income neighborhoods and push vulnerable individuals into the legal system. 

10.) Commitment to anti-oppression with a background that demonstrates their commitment through meaningful actions in prior leadership roles. 

11.) Commitment and plan to diversify the police department itself. 

Ali Wicks-Lim for the ad hoc LGBTQIA+ Caucus of Amherst

Lamikco Magee for the ad hoc Black Caucus of Amherst

Martha Toro for the ad hoc Latinx Caucus Of Amherst

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