Huntsville Police respond to calls for change
Huntsville Police respond to calls for change
You're taking a live look at huntsville police headquarters.
Today -- the department released its response to a list of nearly 30 recommendation s for change.
It comes after huntsville police received criticism for its handling of protests last month in the wake of the killing of george floyd in minneapolis.
It was a good first step in a marathon of steps.
Tonight -- we're hearing from the community as well as city leaders about what is in the police response and where things go from here.
Thanks for joining us tonight -- i'm dan shaffer.
Najahe sherman has the night off.
Waay 31's will robinson-smith has been reading through the police response and talking with people in the community.
He joins us live from h-p-d headquarters with how this is being received and what - if any - changes the department is pledging to make.
Everyone we spoke with this evening says this 73-page document is a starting point.
The key responses are printed within the first 13 pages.
Those we spoke with say there should be and is more to come.
Dexter strong, community activist i'm happy that hpd was responsive to community requests, but i am disappointed with what they put forward.
Community activist dexter strong has been a part of numerous protests and calls for societal improvement long before huntsville knew the name george floyd.
He says the stance taken by huntsville police in the report is that the department is doing enough already or can't change certain things due to state law.
Dexter strong, community activist and if this posture continues to be the predominant attitude of hpd and city officials, there will continue to be a rift between community leaders and the people who are called to protect and serve.
Huntsville police lieutenant michael johnson says many of the items called for by community activists, like banning chokeholds and having an independent oversight committee, were already in place before coming up in recent weeks.
He says the department is making some changes based on community recommendation s, like creating a committee to review department policies every two weeks.
Michael johnson, huntsville police department having a committee is going to add structure.
It's definitely going to make the policymaking process change a little bit more robust.
Another change: creating a portal for the public to view the department's written directives.
Will robinson-smith right now, if you go to the web address for the portal, you'll just see the hpd oath of office and its mission statement.
But within 90 days, lt.
Johnson says it will be populated with policies on an ongoing basis.
He says maintaining community interest in policing will help foster better relationships down the road.
Michael johnson, huntsville police department we're hoping it has a positive effect with what we released.
We're trying to be as transparent as possible.
Everything, like i said, from our training to our policies to our community outreach programs. huntsville city council member frances akridge says she's appreciative of the actions taken by the police department with the document.
One thing she would like to see is the huntsville police citizens advisory council have the ability to continuously see the disciplinary record for all officers.
Frances akridge, district 2 representative, huntsville city council so i think it would be very helpful if the citizens advisory council not only every once in a while say, 'oh, let's take a look at those stats,' but that they review them every month.
Meanwhile, strong says another kind of change is needed for the advisory council.
Dexter strong, community activist a citizens' advisory committee without subpoena power is toothless.
And i also believe that the citizens advisory committee should be completely detached from the political process.
I'm not sure if elected officials should be appointing people to represent the interests of the public, considering that elected officials have political interests to protect.
Clearly, there is a lot more to the conversation that will be addressed.
Both activists and the police department are still waiting for the results of the advisory council's report on the june 1st and 3rd protests.
Both parties agree there is more that can and should be done so the entire huntsville community can have a better relationship with huntsville police.
Reporting live in huntsville, will robinson-smith, waay 31 news.
The group "citizens coalition for criminal justice reform"... which put forward many of the calls for change... says it will have an in- depth response to the huntsville police