City council members Tuesday night reiterated that officials are continuing to move forward with the six initiatives developed in the months following the October 2009 fatal police shooting of 15-year-old Kiwane Carrington.
City staff delivered an update on those initiatives Tuesday night, and much of the discussion was focused on a report that came out of the March 15 community forum designed to draw comment from community members on the relationship between the community and the city’s police department. A working group assembled itself following that forum, and spent about 10 meetings writing the report based on 43 pages’ worth of responses from the forum’s 300 attendees.
The shooting in October strained what was already a tense relationship between the police department and some members of the community, and since then, city officials and community leaders have spent hours trying to repair that cleavage and other related gaps in the community.
The report serves as an ink-and-paper plan to implement the suggestions made by community members, and includes goals like creating partnerships with community organizations and engaging and developing youth.
Other goals include developing a “community coalition” of vested groups to develop specific goals and implementing diversity and culturally-based training, hiring and recruitment for police officers.
The city set up a website to gather feedback on the report, and community relations specialist Garth Minor on Tuesday said the city has already received comments from more than 100 people.
“This document is a stock-taking,” said council member Michael La Due. “We’re almost a year removed from the incident that was a wake-up call to so many. A shockwave through the community."
La Due also called the document a set of “marching orders” for the entire community, not just the people who work in the Champaign City Building.
“We all need to improve, we all need to change our roles, we all need to embrace other people’s realities,” he said.
Council member Will Kyles said he thinks the most important part of the plan is to improve residents’ employability.
“If we continue in this process and we don’t drop the ball, what we’re talking about is a road map for other cities in the country,” Kyles said.
The discussion was not short on community comment from members of relatively voluminous audience. Champaign Rev. Troy Burks said the community has taken positive steps since the October 2009 shooting, but still must go further.
“I think we have made good strides,” Burks said after the meeting. “Are we at the promised land? No. Are we at the middle ground? Maybe.”
I gave a step-by-step update on the six initiatives on this blog several weeks ago. I’d like to hear from you about what you think of the community forum report or any of the steps the city has taken since the October 2009 shooting. Please feel encouraged to post those thoughts below, e-mail me or send me a message on Twitter.