Two members of the Eugene group TransPonder held a virtual listening session this week on police reform. But they are cautiously optimistic about the ability to see real change.
TransPonder board member Emz Avalos and advocate Marty Wilder are also part of the Eugene Police Policy Ad Hoc Committee, which plans to submit a report to the Eugene City Council in 2021, recommending policy changes.
Wilder said listening session attendees were mostly interested in hearing an update on the Ad Hoc Committee, and where other members of the committee stand in terms of changing police policy. But Avalos said it’s still too soon to tell what specific policy suggestions will be included in the report.
Although the two are happy to be part of the committee, they did express some frustration with the process. The final report has to go through the city council, which may adapt or dismiss parts of the report.
“Both of us kind of confessed that when we signed up to be on the committee, that we had our doubts about how successful it was going to be,” said Wilder. “I would consider it a great success if the 30 members of the committees can agree on some strong language for some pretty significant changes to be made.”
Wilder and Avalos were also concerned by the short timeframe the group has to submit a report with so many cooks in the kitchen.
“I really applaud the city for reaching out to BIPOC populations and also the transgender community,” said Wilder. “They’ve tried to do a good faith effort to reach out to the most vulnerable communities, but then think about what that poses. Because now you’ve got 30 members of diverse parts of the Eugene community—most of whom have never worked in a city mechanism like this before. And we’re trying to address something massive in a very limited time constraint, under very limited rules.”
However, Avalos said writing the report provides a foundation to allow the community to keep the city government accountable when making changes.
“I feel like with this initiative, it has given the communities not only hope, but also the energy to continue asking for this change,” said Avalos. “It has also given us tools to continue to have this change again.”
Wilder and Avalos said they hope to form stronger coalitions with members of the Ad Hoc Committee, with the hope of making change even after the report is finished.