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Village Council

JSTF seeks more engagement — Few show at police outreach

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While villagers have voiced their preference for a police department that engages with the community, the community itself has only rarely participated when asked to meet individual officers.

“The community response has been very limited,” according to a document presented by the Justice System Task Force, or JSTF, at Village Council’s April 16 meeting. The report, which covers the  JSTF recommendations for local police training, states that when the department initiated “coffee with a cop” events, few people showed up.

“One officer reported that the only one to show up for his time at a “coffee with a cop” was a gentleman from Springfield!” the report states.

The report provides an update on the JSTF efforts regarding new officer orientation and training. It was presented during reports from Village commissions, and there was no discussion nor action taken.

“I think the group has done good research and this should be helpful to the department,” Council member Judith Hempfling, the Council liaison to the JSTF, stated this week.

Regarding engaging new officers with the community, the report states that “an ongoing concern is what is the best method of community orientation for new officers.” It suggests that the group continue this conversation with chief Brian Carlson and also confer with other social justice groups, such as The 365 Project.

Local police have initiated several new types of training in response to the JSTF recommendations and the hiring of Police Chief Brian Carlson last year. Crisis Intervention Training, or CIT, a form of de-escalation training, has taken precedence over the last two years, and currently “there is an YSPD officer who has completed this training present on each shift,” according to the report.

While Carlson has stated his support for implicit bias training, another JSTF recommendation, no specific training event has been scheduled. According to the document, implicit bias training will soon be offered to all Village staff, at the recommendation of Council member Kevin Stokes. 

According to the document “research on Implicit Bias concludes that this unconscious prejudice is a problem in all professions, from day care providers to SWAT teams. It is also malleable, meaning it can be unlearned. It is important that everyone, including officers, understand that it is not equated with explicit bias. However, it is critical to community policing that is is understood.”

While implicit bias has been defined and is becoming more understood, “the straightforward description of the issue does not actually offer any remedy or training per se.” Last year the police department heard a half-day presentation on implicit bias from Toney Police Consulting in northern Ohio. While the event heightened awareness, it fell short of actual training.

“This was only a starting point,” the report states, noting that JSTF will support any efforts from Council to address bias.

The report also notes the recent department hiring of a Community Outreach Specialist, who will help the department address social-work related calls and situations.

In other Council April 16 business:

• Council unanimously approved a resolution waiving Village tap fees and zoning fees for Home, Inc.’s Forest Village Homes project, an affordable rental project on Dayton Street. The total amount waived is $6,600.

• Council approved several ordinances that allow food trucks in B-2, the General Business District on the south edge of town. The Yellow Springs Brewery had requested the zoning change so that the business could include a food truck at its Xenia Avenue location, where it plans to open a new rental space for private events in the previous location of the bowling alley.

• Council unanimously approved the second reading of an ordinance that establishes pool rates for this season. All the rates are the same as last year, with one new additional rate, for a single adult and single child.

• Council unanimously approved the first reading of an ordinance that would add Christmas Eve Day as a Village employee holiday.

• Shernaz Reporter of the Greene County Combined Health District gave Council a presentation on Tobacco 21, a health district program that aims to outlaw the selling of cigarettes to those under age 21. Council members expressed support for the effort, and asked Village Manager Patti Bates to bring back legislation to a May meeting.

Council will meet next in regular session on Monday, May 7, at 7 p.m. in Council chambers.

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