Racial profiling, disparate treatment of minorities, use of force and a permanent panel overseeing the Sarasota Police Department are all part of the recommendations the Police Advisory Panel will list in its final report.
At their May 10 meeting, panel members began focusing their long list of recommendations that they will give to the City Commission.
Commissioners created the panel in November and gave it six months to come up with a list of suggested changes to the police department’s policies and procedures.
With its last meeting just two weeks away, panel members are busy compiling their recommendations.
City management is planning to ask the commission to extend the panel until the end of June, but panel Chairwoman Susan Chapman said she’d like to complete the work in two weeks.
The panel created a list of 72 recommendations that addressed a variety of issues. On Monday, members approved most without discussion, such as suggesting excessive-force claims must be investigated, the department conduct community-outreach events and Spanish-language training should be encouraged.
A few of the recommendations were subject to debate, such as No. 33: “Racial and economic profiling should be eliminated.”
Panel adviser Ernie Scott said the wording assumes that racial profiling exists. He said criminal profiling is a wise thing to do, but that it’s sometimes perceived as racial profiling.
Panel member Barbara Langston had a different opinion on racial profiling.
“It’s definitely going on,” she said.
Scott also addressed recommendation No. 31-A: “The assignment of police personnel to minority neighborhoods should be improved to ensure that officers assigned to minority neighborhoods demonstrate exemplary interpersonal skills with a strong commitment against disparate treatment.”
He said the recommendation suggests that officers with the poorest interpersonal skills and the least commitment to honoring the law be placed in non-minority neighborhoods.
The volunteer panel will also recommend a permanent version of itself, which will review completed investigations of complaints against police officers. Panel members, though, decided against investigative and subpoena power for the permanent panel.
“You can’t do volunteer criminal investigations,” said Chapman. “I think we should not at first have subpoena power, but have it considered over time.”
The City Commission has the final say over whether to impose any of the panel’s recommendations.
The Police Advisory Panel will suggest the following goals and objectives for the Sarasota Police Department.
• Its sworn officers will be honest, act with integrity and will not compromise or abuse their position.
• They will act with self-control and tolerance, treating members of the public and colleagues with respect and courtesy.
• They will not abuse their powers or authority, and they will respect the rights of all individuals.
• They will act with fairness and impartiality.
• They will not discriminate unlawfully or unfairly.
• They will only use force to the extent that it is necessary, proportionate and reasonable in all circumstances.
• They will only give and carry out lawful orders and instructions.
• They will abide by police regulations, force policies and lawful orders.
• They will be diligent in the exercise of their duties and responsibilities.
• They will treat information with respect and access or disclose it only in the proper course of police duties.
• When on duty, they will be fit to carry out their duties and responsibilities.
• They will behave in a manner which does not discredit the police service or undermine public confidence.
• They will report any action taken against them for a criminal offense, conditions imposed by a court or the receipt of any penalty notice.
• They will report, challenge or take action against the conduct of colleagues, which has fallen below the standards of professional behavior expected.
Contact Robin Roy at email@example.com.
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