BIG QUESTION col NAACP still at work on police deal
By Dawn Schuett
A proposed policy meant to improve the relationship between local law enforcement and the public remains on the agenda of the local NAACP.
The Rochester branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People created a committee in 2003 to resume the task of drafting the policy following the release last year of a controversial study on racial profiling.
The NAACP first started talking in 2001 with the Rochester Police Department and Olmsted County Sheriff's Department about such a policy.
W.C. Jordan, president of the local NAACP, said Wednesday that committee meetings have been suspended "for the time being" because of turnover in membership.
With the recruitment of new members, Jordan said, "we're getting ready to gear back up."
The policy could possibly address five areas, including improved police-community relations, diversity in the police department's work force, sensitivity and diversity awareness training for police department staff, accountability of officers and further analysis of police data.
Similar policies already exist in Minneapolis and St. Paul.
"What we have to do now is we have to go ahead and put our proposal together and give the proposal to the chief of police," Jordan said.
He believes the accountability aspect is crucial and could be carried out by a citizens' review committee, which would check into complaints against officers. However, establishing that kind of committee is proving to be a challenge, Jordan said.
"We realized the group that we had was too small to handle that, so we're going to have to pull in more people from the community in order to make that happen," he said.
Meanwhile, Jordan has continued to meet with Police Chief Roger Peterson to discuss complaints against officers and about two new minority officers hired in September.
The arrival of those officers at the department has been one of the positive outcomes of the past year, Jordan said.
"I don't think it would have happened if we were not advocating for these officers," he said.
The NAACP is also trying to get office space where citizens could take their complaints and include a complaint form on its Web site, Jordan said.
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