As traditional policing strategies and policies have come under the microscope in the wake of several black people around the country being killed by police in the last few months, Everett officials this week it is time to understand policing policies in Everett and how they need to change.
From the top down, it was clear this week that the status quo isn’t acceptable.
Mayor Carlo DeMaria released a statement last weekend saying that the response to events locally and nationally when it comes to policing and systemic racism has to be with action – not words.
“The senseless killing of George Floyd is a result of a failure in policy and oversight by a system that needs review and reform,” he said. “Inherent racism against persons of color resulting in violence and death are unacceptable. We reject and condemn police brutality and racism in the strongest terms. This is a time to act. How we act will be a reflection on the lessons we choose to see, what we choose to listen to, and how we can better understand the issues we face.”
He said the City will change the way it polices the community – noting that the way things have been done in the Police Department for so long do not work now. In addition to that, he will also begin looking at City reforms in government as well.
“Instead of words, we will act with investigation and change,” he said. “Policies created years ago are not effective today. I am in the process of putting together an independent committee to review governmental and police policy that needs updating. All policies will be looked at, and changes how complaints are investigated, and training will be strongly considered.”
At Monday’s City Council meeting, Councilor Gerly Adrien had two pieces on the calendar asking for Chief Steve Mazzie and the Police Union President – who was elected to the position late last fall – to talk about various policies in the Department. Among the things she has asked for are: Use of Force Policy, Use of Force Complaint Policy, Everyday Use of Force Investigation Policy and the policy that is followed when an individual is injured during an encounter with the Everett Police. She also asked for the two police leaders to present on police training, including time spent, topics and testing assessments.
“I think we need to as a City Council to understand what’s going on in our Police force to make sure we’re not making or approving policies that hurt our residents,” she said. “Over the last five weeks I have received complaints that are racial and about how the Everett Police have treated four residents and one non-resident. I don’t know our policies and can’t defend them when that happens.”
Many of the things that are being reviewed nationwide right now along these same measures are use of force, how many officers live in the community where they work, what the racial makeup of the police force is, banning choke holds, a public officer misconduct database, and the demilitarization of the police.
Councilor Peter Napolitano said he agreed that the local police having so much military surplus equipment isn’t appropriate.
“I agree that the militarization of the police departments with heavy equipment from the military doesn’t need to be on our streets,” he said. “We definitely need to make sure all our residents white, black, brown or yellow shouldn’t be living in fear of police. It needs to be reported and we need to address it. We need to have substantial change.”
The matters passed unanimously, 10-0, and they two police leaders will be invited to a future meeting to present.
Mayor DeMaria said community policing has been a priority in Everett, but he said it’s time to update how that is achieved. “Everett has always been a strong community, where community policing is a priority,” he said. “However, updated policies must be considered so our community can move forward together. The City of Everett being a safe place for ALL is a priority, and will continue to ensure that any and all disparate treatment is acted upon swiftly, equitably, and with a keen eye towards true impartiality for the purpose of achieving real justice.”