The City of Eugene’s Police Policy Ad Hoc Committee is in the process of identifying potential policy recommendations for the city’s Police Department. But the committee may have less power than you think.
The Police Policy Ad Hoc Committee is composed of 30 people. 13 different community groups are represented with each group having two representatives in the committee. There are also four at-large positions held by city councilors, but councilors are non-voting members of the committee.
The committee, which is only focusing on policy and not budget changes, has until the end of March 2021 to submit their report. At a previous meeting, the Ad Hoc Committee approved a motion stating the final report must be approved by 70% of the committee.
Over the next few months, the group will provide recommendations to eleven different identified topics based on Campaign Zero and 21st Century Policing. But the committee’s Lead Staff Kevin Alltucker said the process of addressing these issues has been difficult.
“Doing this work on Zoom is challenging,” said Alltucker. “Having trust and building trusting relationships is a key to this process working. And I don’t know if Zoom does a very good job of allowing those things to happen.”
Alltucker said city staff is working to be responsive to the committee’s needs.
To assist with this process, the Ad Hoc Committee currently has four subcommittees— community oversight, use of force, hiring and training, and body-worn cameras. These smaller groups will meet, ideally between ad hoc meetings, then they will present their findings at the next ad hoc committee at-large.
The first subcommittee meeting on community oversight has taken place, and the group is working to schedule the next subcommittee meeting on use of force.
But many committee members such as Betsy Davis, Emz Avalos, and Marty Wilder have expressed frustration with the process, and concerns about the ability to facilitate real change. And since the city does not have the power to implement police policy changes within EPD, it’s unclear what’s next after the report is finished and submitted to the City Council and the Eugene Police Department. Especially since some suggestions may take longer to implement than others.
“Recommendations will very likely include components that have to do with federal law or state law, or perhaps collective bargaining issues,” said Alltucker. “So just because the committee makes a recommendation to [the] city council, doesn’t mean that the city council has control or direction over some of the barriers that would have to be removed to get that recommendation implemented.”
So far, one of the committee’s recommendations to the city is to give the Citizen Review Board more power to investigate police conduct.
After the final report is completed, it is up to the city council to decide how to move forward with recommendations. This includes deciding if the report will be reviewed by the Police Commission. Selected recommendations will then be submitted to EPD Chief Chris Skinner, who must approve any new police policy changes.
The next Police Policy Ad Hoc Committee meeting is Monday, Nov. 30. Committee members are scheduled to discuss police hiring and training. Two people from EPD and at least one person from the City of Eugene Human Resources Department will provide presentations to the Ad Hoc Committee.