Tuesday, August 3, 2021

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Burlington council approves first 16 members of new community police advisory team

Burlington’s city council has unanimously approved a slate of 16 appointees to the city’s new community police advisory team.

The council formally tapped these 16 individuals Tuesday night from a pool of 55 contenders who had applied for the new citizen advisory board in December. The council presumably based its selections on various criteria and categories that were included in the advisory team’s charter to ensure that its members reflect diverse demographic, professional, and organizational backgrounds.

The council originally decided to create the new advisory team amid the widespread calls for police form that erupted last year after the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police. The council’s intention in forming this group was to secure resident input on the policies and procedures of Burlington’s police department.

The group’s members will have no actual decision-making authority, no role in the investigation of complaints about particular officers, and no access to records that aren’t available to the general public. The city’s leaders nevertheless believe that this board could provide valuable insights to the police department and act as a liaison with the community in moments of crisis.

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Morgan Lasater, the city’s community engagement manager, noted that a second round of applications will follow tonight’s appointments in order to fill four still-unassigned posts on the 20-member advisory team. These seats are reserved for a judge, an educator, and two “youth representatives” under the age of 18.

The council’s overall take on the board’s inaugural lineup was perhaps best summed up by councilman Bob Ward prior to Tuesday night’s vote.

“I think we’ve got a list of outstanding candidates,” he told the rest of the council. “I’m looking forward to filling out the CPAT board in the near future.”

Councilman Harold Owen insisted that he and his colleagues also passed over a number of “outstanding” candidates when they chose the board’s inaugural lineup. He encouraged these individuals to apply for the city’s advisory boards in the future.

The following is a list of the new appointees along with the categories and criteria they were selected to fill. (Also included are the lengths of their terms, which vary from 1 to 3 years to ensure the expiration of their terms is staggered):

1.     Dejuana Bigelow – Member of NAACP and/or other activist groups (2 years)
2.     Kendrick Boney – Alamance-Burlington schools, African American and faith communities (2 years)
3.     Laura Bullard – Indigenous person, LGBTQ (1 year)
4.     James Cooley – Justice-involved person, resident of Patrol Zone 2 (2 years)
5.     Danasia Eubanks – Line-level police employee (only applicant to meet this criteria) (2 years)
6.     Lacey Flintall – Youth community, advocate for Mentally ill, resident of Patrol Zone 4 (3 years)
7.     George Hill – Member of NAACP and/or other activist groups, resident of Patrol Zone 3 (3 years)
8.     Tyronna Hooker – Alamance-Burlington schools, African American community, resident of Patrol Zone 1 (3 years)
9.     Samira Khan – Alamance-Burlington schools, Alamance Community College, resident of Patrol Zone 1 (2 years)
10.  Cheryl Raines – Business community, resident of Patrol Zone 4 (2 years)
11.  Ben Rodriguez – Faith community, Justice-involved person, resident of Patrol Zone 3 (3 years)
12.  Ken Smith – LGBTQ (3 years)
13.  Baroney Torres – Youth community, Justice-involved person (3 years)
14.  Yholima Vargas – Hispanic/Latinx community (3 years)
15.  Rose Watlington – Indigenous person, resident of Patrol Zone 2 (1 year)
16.  Randy Williamson – Alamance Community College, Business community (2 years)
17.  TBD – Judge (1 year)
18.  TBD – Educator (1 year)
19.  TBD – Youth under 18 years old (1 year)
20.  TBD – Youth under 18 years old (1 year)

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