Tag Archives: police oversight

Public Comments presented to Ann Arbor City Council on Civilian Oversight, Dec. 6, 2021

Hello, my name is Dr. Kevin Karpiak. I am a Professor of Criminology at Eastern Michigan University, Director of the SMART research project, and a resident of Ann Arbor. I am calling today to voice my objection to Agenda Item CA-24, “Resolution to Approve the Collective Bargaining Agreement between the City of Ann Arbor and Ann Arbor Police Professional Assistants” who are represented by the Police Officers Association of Michigan and whose resources fall within the administrative control of Ann Arbor PD. I object not necessarily to the content of the agreement but because of the process whereby it has come before council, which bypassed ICPOC, the Independent Community Policing Oversight Commission.

ICPOC was created, in part, to be a forum in which members of the community could discuss issues of public safety in order to provide recommendations that can ensure better-informed Council decisions. However, if ICPOC is not systematically included in that process, its potential to achieve its purpose is undermined. It is my understanding of ICPOC’s founding charter that any item City Council votes on, or City Administration plans to make a decision on, that pertains, generally, to public safety, or, specifically, to Ann Arbor PD and its resources, should go before ICPOC. It is my understanding that this was not the case for CA-24, nor for any number of other recent items, such as, on this agenda, CA-23 and CA-10, both of which also directly bear on the allocation of police resources.

If City Council is voting on it, if it pertains to public safety and the allocations of resources therein, ICPOC should be allowed to offer a chance to host a public discussion of it and provide recommendations to Council on it.

On a separate but related issue, I am looking forward to the report on unarmed public safety being prepared by the City Administration. As a member of the Coalition for Re-envisioning our Safety, a diverse coalition of community members who care deeply about transformative justice and building care-based safety in our community, I have witnessed directly the value of a community-led engagement on these issues. This has resulted concretely in our recent proposal for how such a plan might work. To date, over 500 people have endorsed our plan. I am greatly encouraged by the enthusiasm displayed by our community to explore an unarmed non-police service that can connect people to the resources they need, when they need them, without exposing them to additional risks. For that reason, I do hope that ICPOC has been given a substantive role in shaping the City’s recommendations—as the initial resolution says it should– and that it will be brought before ICPOC as part of a public meeting prior to any conclusions about the feasibility of such a program being offered or decisions about how to proceed with a potential program are made.

Today’s Correspondence

I’ve sent the following letter to my State-Level representatives (and aspiring candidates) today.  Fell free to copy, paste and edit as you see fit.

 

Dear [Insert representative],

 

Recently Ann Arbor City Council passed a resolution (Resolution in Support of More Substantive Civilian Review of Policing Practices and Incidents) requesting our state representatives to move forward with a request to include citizen police oversight board members within the category of “law enforcement officials” for the purposes of allowing them access to the Law Enforcement Information Network (LEIN).  In my opinion, this was a measured and sound request both in terms of democratic participation and fiscal oversight (because citizens are not allowed access to the database currently, the AAPD has asked for and been granted a $170k/yr FTE so that a sworn officer can respond to oversight data requests.  We could save money, increase transparency, and arguably upgrade the available skill-set of that position if it could be filled by a civilian data analyst.

 

I was wondering what you are doing to move this issue forward?

 

In addition, in following the work of Ann Arbor’s Independent Community Police Oversight Commission (ICPOC) I have become aware of the Compulsory Arbitration Of Labor Disputes in Police and Fire Department Act 312 of 1969 and its effects on police reform in the state.  It is my understanding that this act gives police and fire unions a special status whereby an unresolved contract negotiation automatically enters binding arbitration after 30 days.  Whereas such arbiters typically resolve contract disputes by looking at prior examples, this is in essence a retrogressive law that makes it impossible to introduce even the most basic and popular reforms should they be found distasteful to the local police or fire union.  I would (1) urge you to make efforts in changing these onerous aspects of the existing law and (2) alert you to Senate Bill 0832 of 2020 and House Bill 5623 of 2020 which, shockingly, aim to extend these prerogatives to correction officers.  If there is anything I can do to help in these efforts, please let me know.