|Mayor Nominates 3 Individuals To Framingham Police Advisory Committee||August 13, 2018|
|Susan Petroni, Framingham Source Editor 508-315-7176
FRAMINGHAM - Mayor Yvonne Spicer has nominated three two women and a former Framingham Police detective to the newly-created Framingham Police Advisory Committee.
The new City Charter called for the creation of a Police Advisory Committee.
The Police Advisory Committee acts in an advisory capacity to the Police Department by bringing to its attention feed-back from the community concerning public safety issues.
The Mayor nominated:
Hendry is a retired Framingham Police detective and a former Framingham Town Meeting member.
Doak is active with the Framingham League of Women Voters.
Santone is a member of the Framingham Disability Commission.
It is unknown how many applicants there were for the Committee.
"The Police Advisory Committee is devoted to facilitating the flow of ideas relative to police services for the Framingham community," according to the City.
The Mayor's office did not mention how many applicants there were for the Council in submitting the names to the City Council on July 31.
SOURCE could not find an advertisement for the Committee on the City's website, like the advertisements posted for for License Commission, Traffic Commission, Planning Board, Zoning Board of Appeals, etc. The City's former public information officer issued a press release on the morning of June 1, announcing it was the last day to apply for City boards, committees and commissions.
This committee ain't gonna do shit on police corruption. It just facilitates the flow of ideas relative to police services for the Framingham community. Translated loosely, it's a worthless committee. It will recommend that we hire still more police officers to direct traffic around holes, read to second graders, place more SROs in the elementary schools and suggest that police officers pay be increased.
|Framingham Police Advisory Committee members say a new proposal would change their mission||July 2, 2020|
|Jeanette Hinkle 508-626-3919
|Metrowest Daily News|
Nicole Doak, vice chair of the Police Advisory Committee, said she supports the concept of a police oversight board, but believes her group's mission is equally important and should not be supplanted by an oversight board.
FRAMINGHAM - A proposal by District 8 Councilor John Stefanini would give the Police Advisory Committee more teeth, allowing the group to analyze and make recommendations about budgets and policies and investigate complaints about the department and its officers.
The proposal, referred to the Public Health, Public Safety and Transportation subcommittee for discussion by councilors at Tuesday's meeting, will likely face pushback from current members of the Police Advisory Committee.
The chair and vice chair of the Police Advisory Committee told the Daily News that Stefanini's changes would fundamentally transform the mission of their group, which they say was carefully designed to function as a liaison between the police and the public, rather than as an oversight board.
"We only went on what we had and that is a one-sentence line that says, 'The charter calls for a Police Advisory Committee,'" said Nicole Doak, vice chair of the committee. "So we spent a long time creating a very solid ordinance for a Police Advisory Committee. It wasn't an oversight committee, it was an advisory committee."
What is the Police Advisory Committee?
The Police Advisory Committee is currently chaired by Susan Santone and vice chaired by Doak. Its other members are Lawrence Hendry, Peter Pleshaw, Shawn Granoff, Jonathan Maul and Carlos Wilder.
Each of the seven members, whose terms range from one to three years, are nominated by the mayor and approved by the City Council.
According to the ordinance currently governing the group's work, the Police Advisory Committee's role is largely centered around community outreach.
The committee is charged with increasing public awareness of the services offered by police and issues of public safety, gathering public comment about police work in the city and reviewing and making recommendations about matters referred to the committee by the mayor, City Council or police chief. Want news like this sent straight to your inbox? Head over to MetroWestDailyNews.com to sign up for alerts and make sure you never miss a thing. You pick the news you want, we deliver.
Committee members are expected to listen to the community and discuss its needs with the police and the city's elected officials; improve relations between the police and the people they serve; and to bolster public awareness of police services and programs, the ordinance says.
What changes are proposed?
Stefanini's proposal would expand the committee's role to include investigating complaints about officers and reviewing the police budget, policies and procedures.
The proposal as written would also require the committee to submit quarterly reports to the chief of police, mayor and City Council about policies and procedures, the police budget and complaints about the operation of the department.
"Quarterly reports of the Committee and the final disposition of complaints shall be made public," the proposed ordinance reads.
Stefanini said he's open to changing elements of the proposal.
"The most important part is that the final dispositions (of complaints about the department) are made public and that there is a diverse group that is engaged in the discussion," he said. "Everything in between, that is something you've got to have a dialogue to make sure it is fair and appropriate."
Stefanini said the public, the police chief, police union representatives, city councilors and Mayor Yvonne Spicer should weigh in on the proposal to ensure universal support.
"I don't have any preconceived notions as to what this should look like, other than I think it needs to be something that fosters a robust and trusted dialogue between the entire community and community decision-makers to ensure that we're doing everything we can to ensure the integrity of the process," Stefanini said.
Stefanini's proposal comes amid a wave of demonstrations calling for police reform in the wake of the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody. But in proposing the ordinance change, Stefanini also referenced the death of Eurie Stamps, a Framingham resident and grandfather of 12 who was shot to death by Framingham police officer Paul Duncan, who is still employed by the department, during a SWAT raid on Stamps' home in 2011.
The Middlesex District Attorney's Office ruled the shooting was accidental later that year.
"This isn't some knee-jerk reaction to something far off that isn't part of our community," Stefanini said. "To me, this is an ongoing dialogue that I've been having for multiple years."
Advise or oversee?
Doak and Santone said that in creating the Police Advisory Committee, members researched both advisory and oversight committees, but determined Framingham's charter called specifically for an advisory board.
Though they both deal with the police, advisory and oversight committees have different missions, and should have different makeups, they said.
Current members of the Police Advisory Committee signed up to serve as a bridge between the community and the police, and to foster understanding between the department and the people it serves, Doak said. By adding oversight to their duties, Doak worries that relationship-based mission will be damaged.
Santone said that if the committee were to take on an oversight role, the city should re-evaluate what qualifications members should have before joining.
"An oversight committee would need to have a better understanding about the inner workings of the department's operations," she said.
Santone said she needs to learn more about how an oversight committee would help the community before supporting its creation.
"I do not see having only an oversight committee as benefiting Framingham," Santone said. "An oversight committee is not going to work on bringing the community and police together."
Doak said she supports the concept of a police oversight board, but believes her group's mission is equally important and should not be supplanted. In its two years, Doak said, the group has already made great strides, gaining the trust of Police Department leadership and providing a space for productive conversations between police and community members.
At the group's last meeting, Doak said, one community member questioned why chokeholds were not explicitly banned in Framingham police policy.
Former Police Chief Steven Trask explained the department does not use chokeholds and is not trained to use them. But after hearing the concern, Trask said he would add language to department policy clearly stating that chokeholds are not allowed.
"I think the two committees serve different purposes and both have a place in the community," Doak said. "I don't think it needs to be one or the other."
Santone, who attended Tuesday's virtual City Council meeting but was not able to speak, seemingly because of technical issues, said the Police Advisory Committee should be invited to the next council discussion about the proposal.
"I'm hoping they will ask the opinions of the people who have been doing it," Santone said.
Jeannette Hinkle is a reporter at the Daily News. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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