Saturday, February 27, 2021

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Burlington’s leaders continue to mull appointments to police advisory board; 55 people have applied (for maximum of 20 slots)

Officials in Burlington have managed to pare down a list of 55 applicants for a new police advisory board to a somewhat more manageable slate of 37 eligible contenders that they’ve since passed on to Burlington’s city council for its consideration.

But the council’s receipt of this 37-person inventory on Tuesday may ultimately be the prelude to yet another round of recruitment as the council members struggle to fill a whole host of demographic and professional categories that they want to see represented on this appointed, advisory board.

This profusion of categories has been a hallmark of this new board ever since Burlington’s city manager and chief of police unveiled their original vision for this so-called Community Police Advisory Team amid the calls for police reform that followed the death of George Floyd last May.

Over the course of several months, city manager Hardin Watkins tweaked the original vision for the board in response to feedback from community groups and members of the city council. These efforts ultimately resulted in a charter that the council formally accepted on November 17.

Under the terms of this charter, the new board is to be a purely advisory body made up of 15 to 20 members that will make recommendations “to improve the quality of policing in Burlington.” Among the group’s roles will be to make recommendations on policy, training, and the police department’s interactions with the community. The group’s members are also expected to serve as a sounding board for public concerns and an advocate for the police department within the community. The charter also makes it clear that the board will have no authority to investigate complaints of officer misconduct or review any particular incidents, and its members will only have access to records available under the state’s Public Records Law.

In addition to these general objectives and limitations, the charter also spells out the criteria that will guide the city council’s selection of the board’s prospective members. These criteria include the aforementioned roster of categories, which identifies the various professions, organizations, and demographic groups that will, ideally, be represented on the advisory board. These categories include representatives of the local school system and community college, private business people, the “youth community,” members of advocacy groups like the NAACP and the National Alliance on Mental Illness, as well as people drawn from the “African-American community,” the “Hispanic/Latinx community,” the “community of indigenous persons of North Carolina,” the “LGBTQ community,” and “all faith communities.”

The council’s approval of this charter last fall jumpstarted a recruitment drive for the new board’s prospective members that ultimately brought in applications from 55 would-be appointees. According to city staff members, these 55 individuals include 14 people who are ineligible for the police advisory team because they live outside of Burlington’s city limits as well as another 6 who already serve on one of Burlington’s appointed boards or commissions.

During the city council’s regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday, Watkins informed the council’s members that two of the 6 current board members have indicated their willingness to give up their existing appointments if tapped for the police advisory team. Watkins went on to present these two applicants to the council along with the other 35 eligible contenders that city staff had identified. The city manager also offered the council some suggestions to guide its deliberations about these 37 candidates.

Watkins acknowledged that the council will have a lot of things to consider as it mulls over the prospective membership of this 15-to-20-person committee.

“You’ve got 37 candidates to fill 15 to 20 slots that have to be in certain categories,” he reminded the council. “So, it’s a little bit trickier than the process we usually go through [to appoint people to boards and commissions].”

The council went on to spend the next 30 minutes or so deliberating over its prospective appointments, which its members formally fixed at 20 positions. The council also identified three categories that appeared to be missing from the field of existing contenders. To this end, they instructed city staff members to leave three of the board’s slots open for a retired judge or someone with equivalent criminal justice experience, a member of the “youth community,” and someone from the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill or a comparable organization.

The council decided to deliberate individually over the remaining 17 positions. Each member has agreed to select his or her preferred candidates for these posts from the pool of existing applicants. The council also resolved to confer on their respective selections at some point later this month.

Prior to Tuesday’s meeting, city officials provided The Alamance News with a list of the original 55 applicants for the police advisory team. This list, which didn’t distinguish eligible applicants from those who are ineligible, is reproduced here in its entirety:

· Haamid Abdul-Mutakallim
· Dejuana Ladawn Bigelow
· Kendrick Boney
· Laura Elizabeth Bullard
· James Oscar Cooley, Jr.
· Jaimee Sakeenah Cousin
· Bryant Tremayne Crisp
· Kyle Lee Dortch
· Danasia Tranae’ Eubanks
· Ray Cooper Euliss II
· Lacy, Eugene, Flintall Jr
· Luz Yvette Gaboury
· Jasmine Patrice Smith Gray
· Tameka Lashea Harvey
· George Sylvester Hill
· Tyronna M. Hooker
· Keela Ann Hyatt
· Thomas Anthony Johnson
· Shiketha L Jones
· Monica Hughes Jones
· Mark A Keimig
· Samira Farooque Khan
· Thomas Kivett
· Shayla R Mitchell-Bigelow
· Karen Linehan Mroz
· John H Oakes
· Santiago Oscar Olortegui
· Cheryl Renee Raines
· Benjamin Rodriguez
· Eladio Roman, Jr.
· Mark Saldana
· Asterio Sanchez Pacheco
· Deborah Booker Sellars
· Kamika Michelle Slaughter
· Ken Smith
· William Francis Sohor
· Barony Ramon Torres
· Yholima Vargas-Pedroza
· Ivan Vijackic
· Rose C Watlington
· Randy Creel Williamson
· Mary C Bozeman
· Michael Jerome Graves
· Roger Travon Moore
· Thomas, William, Phelps
· James Lester Reid, III
· Shaher Sayed
· Alfredo, (Fred), Rodriguez
· Xochitl Meritzetl Ignacio Ambriz
· Angel Daniel Ambriz
· Felix Jesús Rojas Ambriz
· Shannon D. Craddock
· Jimmie LeAnthony Burgess
· Chad, Daniel, Johnson
· Angelica Robles Joiner

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