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Village Council

Council on policing— Guidelines stress anti-racism

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At Village Council’s July 3 meeting, Council members unanimously approved adopting new guidelines for policing that take a proactively inclusive and anti-racist stance.

“The Village of Yellow Springs and our police department commits to identifying, challenging and changing the values, structures and behaviors that perpetuate systemic racism,” the guidelines read, in a section titled “Demonstrably Inclusive.”

Following a brief discussion about adding the above language, which had been suggested by Council member Judith Hempfling, Council unanimously approved the guidelines, including the suggested new language.

The document is not intended as a rebuke to the department, but rather an acknowledgement of systemic racism in the culture, Hempling said.

“This is not meant to demean the work of local police,” she said. “It acknowledges there’s a reason for the national movement called Black Lives Matter.”

In response to a question from Council President Karen Wintrow regarding whether Council should broaden the language to include not only the negative behavior of racism but also additional negative behaviors, Council member Gerry Simms said the emphasis should stay on racism.

“It’s not too narrow to me. It brings the issue to the forefront,” Simms said. “We’re a small community, but this needs to start somewhere. We’re making a start.”

The Guidelines to Village Policing are Council’s recommendations to the local police department. While they were not written within the department, Police Chief Brian Carlson stated his support for the document.

“It will be implemented,” he said.

According to Council member Marianne MacQueen, the policing document was the culmination of efforts from Council members and two local groups focused on local police practices. Originally a policing vision crafted by MacQueen and Council Vice President Brian Housh, the document was passed by Council but not incorporated into practice by the department, then led by former Chief Dave Hale. Following the village concern over police behavior at the 2016 New Year’s Eve ball drop and Hale’s resignation, the document was revised by a subcommittee of The 365 Project, comprised of Gavin DeVore Leonard, Louise Smith, Janet Mueller and Karen Crist, then edited by the Justice System Task Force. Final edits were made by Housh and MacQueen, with a proposal for additional anti-racist language from Hempfling at the July 3 meeting.

Other components of the guidelines describe the Yellow Springs Police Department as “Safety-Centered,” “Resolution-Oriented” and “Locally-Minded.”

Under “Locally-Minded,” the guidelines state:

“Exposure to local culture and events is critical, as developing relationships among community members and officers encourages dedication to and longevity with the Village. It is important that YSPD team members are an active part of our community and feel connected, and the Village needs to facilitate this.”

The complete guidelines can be accessed online at http://www.yso.com, click on July 3 Council packet.

• Council unanimously approved the 2018 tax budget for Yellow Springs, submitted by Assistant Manager/Finance Director Melissa Dodd. The document is a pro forma budget required by the Greene County auditor to demonstrate the need to assess property taxes.

The budget anticipates that the Village general fund will receive $3.4 million in revenues in 2018, compared to $3.5 million estimated for 2017.

“I anticipate a relatively healthy general fund,” Dodd stated, adding that she creates budgets conservatively, estimating expenses on the high side and revenues on the low side.

• Council unanimously approved a resolution that accepts a grant from the Ohio Department of Transportation through the Safe Routes for Schools program. The action was a pro forma requirement from ODOT before bidding for the local improvements, which will include new sidewalks in the village on sections of Yellow Springs Fairfield Road and Winter Street, paid by a $300,000 ODOT grant.

• Council unanimously approved a one-year extension of a contract with Rumpke, Inc. for waste removal.

• Council unanimously approved the second and final reading to adjust summer sewer rates for local gardeners to correspond with their water use during winter months, since the water used for gardening doesn’t go down village sewers.

• Hempfling explained a proposal from Brian Housh and herself that asks Council to move ahead with establishing a 3 percent excise lodging tax, to be levied on transient guests in Yellow Springs. The tax would apply to all village lodging establishments, regardless of size. Council had discussed the potential new tax at several previous meetings, but foreward movement had stalled. According to Hempfling, she and Housh will bring a lodging tax ordinance to the Aug. 21 and Sept. 5 Council meetings.

• During his regular report, Police Chief Carlson said the department is preparing a job description for a social worker for the department.

• Council came out of an executive session before the meeting, with a purpose of a discussion of pending or immiment court action. Council again went into executive session following its regular meeting.

Council’s next regular meeting is Monday, July 17, at 7 p.m. in Council chambers.

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Council on policing— Guidelines stress anti-racism

by Diane Chiddister