Published: Feb 26, 2012 02:00 AM
Modified: Feb 26, 2012 06:35 PM
On Feb. 15 I attended the meeting of the Chapel Hill Town Council's Community Policing Advisory Committee, which decided to reject the proposal of the Town Council to have a website rather than an independent investigator gather facts about the Yates Motor incident last November (CHN, Feb. 19).
I do not pretend to give a thorough rendition of the committee's discussions. At the beginning of the meeting, I made a few points and asked a couple of questions, and I deal here only with those.
CPAC Chairman Ron Bogle, in response to one of my questions, made clear that, notwithstanding that CPAC members now most likely take the view that they are not themselves actively going to gather more information relating to Yates, they will happily accept the product of any investigation undertaken by outside bodies.
Timeframe? Not clear. But Bogle intimated that he saw the process for CPAC undertaking the charge (namely, the consideration of policing policy review; which is what any investigation of the facts is supposed to feed) as only having just begun, and likely to take some time.
So, there is something of a window for an independent investigation. But it won't be open forever. In the meantime, CPAC remains open to receiving any other submissions. Currently, they say they have received only 10 emails. Er. I know two of them were mine ...
Of course, I made the point (echoed by some on CPAC itself) that you can't really have a useful review of policy unless you know what you're reviewing and why. Which you can't know if you don't know what went wrong. Which you can't know if you don't know the facts.
The impotence of CPAC, as currently constituted, only became more embarrassingly clear throughout the evening as, time and again, CPAC members made clear that they did not have information and/or resources they need.
Copy of Police Policy Handbook? Nope.
Contact with a consultant hired by the Chapel Hill Town Council to review policing policy? Nope.
An idea as to the progress with said consultant? Nope.
It seems to me that CPAC, at the moment, is "advisory" only in the sense that no one advises them of anything.
And that is where I think this whole process should end up. And I made this point Feb. 15.
One of the primaryrecommendations of CPAC should be that it, or another body, be given proper powers and resources so that it, or the other body, can become a fully functioning, properly constituted entity, exercising recognizable and respected citizen oversight of policing policy and strategy in our community.
This is not such a way-out suggestion.
Certainly it is the way thatpolicing operates in Great Britain. Furthermore, the oversight commissions in GB will, as of May, be directly elected by their citizenry.
Now, there's something to hope for.