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Yellow Springs policing forum draws broad range of citizens

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About 70 local residents attended last night’s local policing forum, sponsored by the Village Human Relations Commission, at the Bryan Center. People of all ages, including Antioch College and other area university students and at least one high school student, joined the conversation about what villagers want their local police department to be. 

The group divided into smaller feedback circles and then reconvened to report back on many recurring themes that had emerged independently within each of the circles. Among the evening’s themes were community values such cultural inclusiveness, peace keeping, communication and trust. Those values informed the policing qualities the group favored, including de-escalation practices, active engagement with villagers and especially youth, restorative justice and acting as peace keepers rather than enforcement officers. What this group of villagers wants in a police chief also fit within the peace-keeping theme, as villagers said they wanted a skilled mediator, someone knowledgeable about progressive policing practices such as restorative justice and someone who will resist the militarization of the local department, as some police departments around the country are doing.

The policing forum was the first of what HRC co-chair Debra Williamson hoped would be an series of discussions about community policing, she said last night. It also takes place in the midst of a search for a new police chief. 

The Village is still taking applications through Oct. 31 for the position of the chief. The hiring process will include an initial review of applications and scheduling of interviews the week of Nov. 3, following the next week by a first round of finalist interviews. The week of Nov. 17 will be reserved for a possible second round of finalist interviews and a public meet and greet scheduled for Monday, Nov. 17, 5–6:30 p.m. in Bryan Center Rooms A and B. Village Council is set to interview approximately three finalists the week of Dec. 1, followed by the physical/psychological review of the candidates and a recommendation from Village Manager Patti Bates for Council’s approval at the Dec.15 meeting. 

A committee of citizens and Village representatives will be involved in the entire selection process. According to Bates, the committee includes Bates, Council members Brian Housh and Lori Askeland, Village Finance Director Melissa VanZant, Aaron Saari of the Presbyterian Church, TJ Turner, Police Chief Sue Madsen of Miami Township (Clermont County), Yellow Springs Sergeants Josh Knapp and Naomi Penrod, as well as Yellow Springs officer Tom Sexton and dispatcher Rita Check, who were each chosen by their peers.

Read more on the forum and the chief search in the Oct. 30 issue of the YS News.



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