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Posted on: June 18, 2020

Northampton Policing Review Commission - A Joint Special Commission of the Mayor and City Council

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Northampton Policing Review Commission

A Joint Special Commission of the Mayor and City Council

The recent killings of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and Rayshard Brooks have sparked national protest, once again exposing historic inequities and systemic racism in policing and our society at large in the United States. Propelled by these tragic events nationally and their connection to 400 years of racial injustice, hundreds of Northampton residents have called upon their elected leaders to rethink the city’s approach to policing, rethink whether and what police services could be delivered by others, and rethink how we structure and fund community safety moving forward.

The Mayor and the City Council are committed to initiating a sweeping public policy review and community conversation about policing and community safety. Northampton’s elected leaders are united in agreement that we are in a critical moment as a city and a nation that calls for profound structural change and must work together to identify and enact necessary reforms with deliberate speed and lasting impact. 

To achieve that goal, the Mayor and the City Council are jointly convening a special citizen commission to study these complex issues and recommend reforms to the current organizational and oversight structures, municipal funding allocations, and policies and ordinances that together can transform how the city delivers policing services while ensuring community safety equitably and justly for all. 

Issues to be studied by the citizen commission shall include, but are not limited to:

  • Department size, structure, services, and budget

  • Use of force policies

  • Citizen complaint processes

  • Recruitment and diversity policies

  • Training and equipment

  • Data collection and reporting transparency

  • Body worn cameras

  • Union contracts

  • Civilian oversight/review models

  • Transitioning 911 calls for mental health, houselessness, substance abuse disorder, and other non-criminal services to civilian responders or social service agencies.

  • An examination of alternatives to current policing practices

Size, Composition, and Appointment Process

The Northampton Policing Review Commission shall be a fifteen (15) member public body made up of Northampton residents with a demonstrated interest, experience, or expertise in the issues under review by the special commission. 

The Mayor shall appoint six (6) members and the City Council shall appoint nine (9) members by an application and review process to be determined by each appointing authority. Mayoral appointments shall include a member of the Northampton Human Rights Commission. City Council appointments shall include not more than two (2) City Councilors. 

The commission shall include representation of not less than eight (8) members who are Black, Indigenous, People of Color, or from other historically marginalized communities who have been targeted and harmed by U.S. policing practices. The commission shall elect its own co-chairs who shall be citizen members. 

The appointment process shall be completed on or before August 20, 2020, and the Northampton Policing Review Commission shall convene its first organizational meeting no later than September 10, 2020.

Meetings, Public Hearings, and Staff Support

The commission shall set its own meeting schedule as determined by the body. In addition to regular meetings, the commission shall hold at least three (3) public hearings to gather public input on issues under review. All meetings and public hearings shall comply with Massachusetts Open Meeting Law, including remote meetings held in accordance with Governor Baker’s COVID-19 emergency orders.

The Mayor shall file a financial order with the City Council to fund consulting or staff support.

Preliminary and Final Reporting Deadlines

The Northampton Policing Review Commission shall issue a preliminary report to the Mayor and the City Council on or before December 17, 2020, and release it for public review and comment.

The Northampton Policing Review Commission shall issue a final report with recommendations to the Mayor and the City Council on or before March 4, 2021, which is over two months prior to the required submission of the fiscal year 2022 city budget. 

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