Greensboro Activists Want Watchdog Group For Police Misconduct
Community group wants a new entity to ease racial tension in Greensboro.
Community activists believe more needs to be done to address racial tension between Greensboro residents and the city’s police department. Thursday evening, Aug. 7, the group unveiled their proposal at a public meeting.The plan is called the Police Accountability, Community Safety and Healing Initiative. It would oversee resident complaints about police misconduct.
Reverend Nelson Johnson, executive director of the Beloved Community Center, says the new proposed watchdog group would be independent of any police influence and more objective.
“We think part of the problem is that too much power has been concentrated for far too long within the police department over its policing affairs," explains Rev. Johnson. "We believe the solution to that is to create a quality body of people to provide oversight for the police and to work with them but to not be under their influence.”But Police Chief Kenneth Miller says this group is offering a solution where there is no problem. Since 1963, Greensboro has had some form of an independent system through which residents can file complaints about police misconduct. According to Chief Miller, this existing committee has full access to confidential police records but is outside of police influence.
“We don’t have any control over the appointments," says Chief Miller. "When the cases come, we provide them the information and we are only available to them to answer questions about policy training or other protocols or matters of law with respect to our work so they can make a decision as to whether or not we acted appropriately.”Social activists behind this initiative say it’s in response to a series of incidents culminating with the April 2013 arrest of four African American Bennett college seniors for a noise complaint. They were hosting an off-campus graduation party. The young women filed complaints with the city's existing Citizen Review Committee alleging the arrest officers used excessive force. Only one of the students stood trial for resisting arrest and assaulting a police officer. She was later found not guilty of all charges.