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|Napa Greens Call for A Police-Review Commission (Public Event: January 24, 2011)|
|Date||Monday January 24|
|Time||6:30 PM - 8:30 PM|
|Import this event into your personal calendar.|
580 Coombs Street
|Event Type||Panel Discussion|
|Organizer/Author||Sean Dodd, Co-Coordinator, Napa Greens|
FOR IMMEDIATE PUBLICATION
DATE: January 6, 2011
Sean Dodd, Co-Coordinator, Napa Greens (sean.michael.dodd [at] gmail.com / 707 812 8888)
Napa Greens Call for A Police-Review Commission (Public Event: January 24, 2011)
Media Outlets in Napa, the North Bay, and the SF Bay Area
NAPA, CALIFORNIA --- Following two fatal shootings by Napa law enforcement in 2010 --- the first having gone largely unreported, and the second now being investigated by the Sheriff's Office --- the Napa County Green Party is calling for the establishment of a permanent, citizen-run Police Review Commission similar to those already in place in other Bay Area cities like Berkeley and San José.
In an effort to start an informed community dialogue about the benefits of such a commission, the Napa Greens will be hosting a Community Forum at Napa Main Library on Monday, January 24, at 6:30 PM. The forum will feature a moderated discussion with a panel of expert guest speakers, followed by an audience Q&A session.
Napa Greens were immediately drawn to this issue for its resonance with five of their 10 Key Values; social justice, diversity, grassroots democracy, decentralization, and local/global responsibility. As Napa Greens Co-coordinator Sean Dodd explains: "The police protect and serve us, and they deserve our trust and respect. But when the guardians of public safety turn lethal force upon the very citizens they are sworn to protect, we are forced to confront an uncomfortable question: 'Who guards the guardians?' In a free and democratic society, the guardians cannot be left to guard themselves."
Dodd points out that a citizen-run Police-Review Commission does more than put the values of a single party into action. "Grassroots democracy, decentralization, and local responsibility are not just Green values; they are basic principles of American self-government. 'Of the people, by the people, and for the people' has little meaning if the townspeople cannot hold their local police to account, or if the facts of an investigation are kept hidden from public view."
Successful police-review commissions are already in place across the state and throughout the nation. Berkeley's commission, appointed by the city council, has been in operation since 1973, and San José has gone an extra step in depoliticizing its police-review functions through the creation, in 1996, of a new city department, the Independent Police Auditor, headed up by a retired judge, with a staff of 22 employees.
As well as investigating excessive and lethal uses of force, such commissions also review civil rights complaints ranging from ethnic and racial profiling to unwarranted stops and detentions, crowd-control abuses, and improper searches and seizures. Commissions also serve a key community-relations function, creating open dialogue between city government, the police, and underrepresented communities, while also advising city and police decisionmakers on policy recommendations and quality-improvement issues.
"Maintaining respect for diversity is also a major reason we are behind this issue" says Dodd, explaining that while a disproportionate number of police incidents involve African-Americans, Latinos, and Asian-Americans, the diversity dimension has nuances that go well beyond race and ethnicity. "In Napa, the latest shooting involved a man allegedly experiencing a suicidal mental-health crisis. Mental health --- like race, ethnicity, gender, or sexual orientation --- is an identifying trait for millions of Americans. As such, the police response to persons with mental-health symptoms or diagnoses is undoubtedly a diversity issue."
Dodd goes on to say that young people, too, are often profiled and sometimes harassed by police, and he worries about the preemptive use of force to infringe civil liberties. "In the most recent Napa shooting, there are concerns that the police may have been primed to expect a gunfight, based on hearsay information from unnamed 911 callers that Mr. Poccia kept guns in the house. But the right to keep and bear arms is a constitutional right that millions of law-abiding American choose to exercise freely. If exercising our civil rights puts people at risk of police profiling and violence, that could have a chilling effect on our liberties."
The Napa Greens acknowledge that the January 24th Community Forum marks just the beginning of a more comprehensive process of public engagement and debate. "We Greens have a long tradition of consensus-building," says Dodd, "and we place an emphasis on opening up the discussion to a wide diversity of opinions, always in the hope of learning, growing, and reaching common ground."
For more information about the January 24 Community Forum, the public is invited to send email inquiries to napagreens [at] aol.com.
// END OF NEWS RELEASE //
PUBLIC EVENT ANNOUNCEMENT:
COMMUNITY FORUM: Does Napa Need A Police-Review Commission?
A moderated expert-panel discussion with audience Q&A.
Following recent police shootings, the public is invited to participate in a moderated expert-panel discussion about the benefits of establishing a citizens' Police Review Commission. FREE. Mon, Jan 24, 2011, 6:30 - 8:00 PM, Napa Main Library, Community Meeting Room, 580 Coombs Street, Napa. FREE. Open to the public. Hosted by Napa County Green Party. Info: napagreens [at] aol.com
Reporters are welcome. Still photos of the presenters and panelists are acceptable, so long as the photographing is polite and unobtrusive. But no audience photographs, please, and no video footage or camera crews.
The media spokesperson for this event is Sean Dodd, and he can be contacted at 707 812 8888 or sean.michael.dodd [at] gmail.com. Sean's personal phone and email are for media inquiries only; public inquiries should be directed to Napa Greens' email: napagreens [at] aol.com. Thank you.
// END OF MEMORANDUM //