OBS Launches Quality Policing Initiative

In December 2014, Organization for Black Struggle launched their Quality Policing Initiative:

The killings of Mike Brown, Kajieme Powell, Vonderrit Myers and others are not the result of abnormal incidents resulting in accidents, nor do these killings reflect “one bad apple” police officer. It is a manifestation of a system of policing that is unaccountable, out of control and acts from its worst impulses of racism and aggression. It sees black and brown citizens as individual targets and whole communities as collective threats. The existing situation means that too frequently there will be random and unlawful executions of individual targets, and police forces will have negative and even predatory relationships with the communities that they are supposed to be serving and protecting, instead of killing and harassing.

As a result of the current system of policing we have been stripped of our citizenship and robbed of our Constitutional and Human Rights by the very people we pay and empower to protect these rights. This is intolerable, but there is a solution that maintains our best values and creates the proper relationship between policing authorities and the people who vote them into office and pay for their protection. That solution is the Quality Policing Initiative.

We want a Quality Policing Initiative that is based on the concept that police are hired to defend the personal safety and the Civil, Constitutional and Human Rights of every person they serve and protect first and foremost.

Our Quality Policing Initiative makes all five phases of policing authority—(1) recruitment, (2) training, (3) deployment, (4) accountability and (5) advancement—responsive to the communities that they are policing and to the elected officials who regulate and deploy them.

Our Quality Policing Initiative can be reached many ways. Any one piece of it is a step in the proper direction but only by adding significant community-driven involvement, as spelled out in the Initiative, can we truly put policing into a proper relationship with the community it is empowered to protect and serve.

We are asking that St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department, the St. Louis County Police Department and the 42 individual police departments voluntarily sign on to our Quality Policing Initiative and to work with the community to put the model in place.

We are advocating legislation at the state, county and local levels to make our Quality Policing Initiative law and will be holding elected officials accountable for the present levels of oppression, violence and impunity that defines most police relationships. Every death and/or injury going forward is and continues to be the fault of the elected officials who have allowed this predatory system to continue to grow.

We will be working with human rights and other organizations to compel the Department Of Justice to do its job and hold every policing body in St. Louis County and the City of St. Louis accountable for their demonstrated lack of accountability. We will be advocating for the investigation, monitoring, control and even dissolution of any policing body opposed to our Quality Policing Initiative.

We will be working to dismantle the current structure that undergirds the Human and Civil Rights violating relationship between the community and the policing authorities. We will change the culture one politician, police officer and law at a time.

Below are the components of the Quality Policing Initiative:

Recruitment:

  1. Residency Requirements: Police Officers must live within the jurisdiction that they police.
  2. Affirmative Action: hiring for racial and gender parity is a minimum requirement so that the police reflect the population they are policing.

Training:

  1. Enhanced Personal Unarmed Combat Training: Police should have to qualify in unarmed combat to give them more confidence and less dependence on their weapons in street encounters.
  2. Conflict Resolution Training: An officer should be taught to and rewarded for deploying de-escalation/conflict resolution training.
  3. Threat Progression Training: Police should be taught that there are different levels of response to the public so that they only use force as a last resort, and then only against violent individuals.
  4. Anti-Racism Training: An officer must be trained in cultural core competencies.

Deployment:

  1. Demilitarize All Police Forces: Withdraw from the Department Of Defense 1033  (DOD 1033) Program and withdraw from the Forfeiture/Seizure Program to buy military grade gear.
  2. Stop Using the Police as Collection Agents: Remove ticket quotas and fees and fines as primary mechanisms to fund municipal government.
  3. Implementation of field contact cards or reports for traffic stops and investigative stops based on suspicion of criminal activity containing race and gender of persons stopped: The cards should be retained for 24 months and, in addition to the age, race and gender of the person stopped should include (a) the officer’s name, race, and badge number; (b) approximate time and location; (c) whether the stop involved a frisk or pat-down search; (d) any weapons, evidence or contraband found during the search; (e) whether the individual involved was arrested or cited, and if so, the charges.
  4. SWAT/Lethal Force Parameters: Designed in conjunction with the Citizen’s Review Board/Civilian Accountability Project.
  5.  First Response Escalation Model: Police responses will not begin at lethal force but will scale up to it and the guidelines will be designed in conjunction with the Citizen’s Review Board/Civilian Accountability Project.

Accountability:

  1. Creation of an effective and automated Early Warning System: In order to produce an effective disciplinary/rewards system we recommend that there be an automated Early Warning System that consists of a database that takes into account the following:  (a) numbers and patterns of disciplinary complaints against each officer by citizens and police personnel; (b) allegations of racial bias and domestic violence, civil actions against the officer; (c) use of force as documented in the “use of force” reports; (d), illegal entries and searches as documented in the “search and seizure” reports; (e) other reliable indicia of “at risk” officers and which recommends increased monitoring, supervision, and/or counseling of the officer when the threshold for triggering action by the Early Warning System is reached.
  2. Media Accountability System: Body and Dash cameras where the data is controlled by a Citizen’s Review Board/Civilian Accountability Project entity and shared with the community and police together.
  3. A Citizen’s Review Board/Civilian Accountability Project: The Board must have subpoena, investigatory and prosecution powers. The Board should also have a role in developing police policies and setting standards that impact all five areas of policing (recruitment, training, deployment, accountability and advancement).
  4. Civilian complainants must be treated equally with the accused officer: We propose and recommend that civilian complainants be treated equally with the officer in question. Both the civilian and the officer must be questioned in the same detail about the alleged conduct, the officer’s word must not automatically be accepted over that of the civilian, and reasons must be given for sustaining or not sustaining all cases.
  5. Consideration of substance and patterns of civilian complaints of officer misconduct by the Citizen’s Review Board/Civilian Accountability Project (CAP) and Internal Affairs Division (IAD) investigators and supervisors: We propose and recommend that the substance and patterns of all civilian complaints of police misconduct against an officer be considered by police disciplinary investigators, supervisors, and internal auditors, and that disciplinary complaints of misconduct be included in the periodic evaluations of officers, considered in promotion decisions and that nothing in the Police Union contract shall be interpreted to interfere with this.
  6. We propose a Four Step disciplinary process: Investigation, findings and disciplinary recommendation of CAP and IAD investigators should be made available to the public wherein Civil litigation or Civil Rights may have been violated and to the County Prosecutor’s Office. (a) Review and concurrence or non-concurrence by CAP or IAD supervisors and administrative heads of the agencies; (b) Review of findings and recommendations by the Chief of Police; (c) Review of cases by the County Prosecutor’s Office & the CAP where discipline of more than five days is recommended or if criminal charges are going to be pursued. Officers will still have the right to challenge any disciplinary action that does not result in a criminal charge, in court; (d) The Police Department will make available statistics on how many punishments are reversed or reduced through the grievance procedure thereby making evaluation of the frequency and severity of punishment in the disciplinary process possible and transparent.
  7. Immediate supervisors have responsibility for discussing all disciplinary complaints with their subordinates and recommending additional monitoring, counseling, and/or training when appropriate.
  8. Creation and implementation of “use of force” and “search and seizure” reports: We propose and recommend that all officers develop and require all officers to complete written: (a) “use of force” reports to be filled out by any officer using type of force greater than escort and compliant cuffing; (b) “search and seizure” reports to be filled out when any officer (1) performs a warrantless search (excluding searches incident to arrests, frisks, and pat-downs (2) performs a body cavity or strip search, or (3) conducts any warrantless seizure of property (excluding towing vehicles) and that these reports as well as all disciplinary complaints be routinely monitored by the CAP to determine abuses and patterns of abuses.
  9. Police officers who provide information about other officers’ wrongdoing be protected from reprisals: Police officers who provide information about other officers wrongdoing should be given protection from reprisals and where necessary rewards for providing testimony concerning other officers wrongdoing by allowing transfers to other units and in some cases promotions. Investigators should be permitted to reward officers who risk personal harassment by disclosing other police officer’s misconduct. The promise of rewards is a necessary and effective tool in discovering and eliminating misconduct within any close association of people.
  10. CAP and IAD accept anonymous complaints: We further propose that anonymous complaints of police abuse of citizens be accepted, instead of the current ordinance prohibiting anonymous complaints except where criminal conduct is alleged.
  11. Records of disciplinary complaints against officers and their dispositions should be maintained during and for three years following an officer’s employment: We further propose that records of disciplinary complaints by citizens and dispositions of these complaints be maintained during the employment history of the officer and for three years following in the event he/she may seek to resume employment.
  12. Every police jurisdiction should produce printed annual reports and make monthly statistics sufficiently available to allow public monitoring and reasonable analysis of the disciplinary system and should monitor the field contact cards to determine if and where racial profiling is taking place: These reports must include by unit, district and countywide (a) the number and type of Complaint Registers, (b) who investigated the complaints (CAP, IAD, or the officer’s supervisor), including the disposition by category of the complaints (i.e. sustained, not-sustained, unfounded, and exonerated), the punishment recommended at each phase of the process, and the actual punishment meted out at the end of the arbitration process. [Current reports are particularly lacking in describing what punishments if any are actually meted out in what types of cases and in describing how frequently the CAP investigator’s findings and recommendations for punishment are reversed or reduced in the disciplinary process.
  13. Participatory Budgeting: Control of amount and spending of police funds through a community process.
  14. Enhance FOIA Process.

Advancement:

  1. Consideration of substance and patterns of civilian complaints of officer misconduct by the Citizen’s Review Board/Civilian Accountability Project (CAP) and IAD investigators and supervisors: We further propose and recommend that the substance and patterns of all civilian complaints of police misconduct against an officer be considered by police disciplinary investigators, supervisors, and internal auditors, and that disciplinary complaints of misconduct be included in the periodic evaluations of officers, considered in promotion decisions and that nothing in the Police Union contract shall be interpreted to interfere with this.
  2. Advancement is based on demonstrated expertise and commendations: This is in field use of Quality Policing training competencies and not carrying too many censures from the accountability section of the initiative.
  3. Adherence to Best Practices Connected to Advancement: People who are promoted demonstrate Quality Policing practices and those who don’t are not promoted.

Download OBS_Quality_Policing_Initiative_Update_Jan_2015.pdf

Read about the Initiative on OBS's website.

 

September 4, 2020

Strike Watch, Labor Day: Vonda McDaniel on Workers Redefining “Nash-Vegas” and Taking on Power in Tennessee

Earlier this summer, we had the fortune to sit down with Central Labor Council (CLC) of Nashville & Middle Tennessee President Vonda McDaniel. McDaniel gave us key insights – shared in this Strike Watch interview -  into the critical organizing led by food processing workers hard-hit in unsafe meatpacking plants in the region and throughout the US as the COVID-19 pandemic worsened.  But meatpacking is not the only place workers are rising up in the Nashville area – where organizations are redefining Black and migrant-led labor organizing in new and important ways.

As we honor the many essential workers on the front lines of our economy this Labor Day, FJE presents our continued conversation with Council President McDaniel. She shares below about important new organizing across retail, urban development, healthcare and more to ensure the growing “Nash-Vegas” actually works for local communities, especailly as Tennessee sped to re-opening. In partnership with NFG’s Amplify Fund, we will be dialoguing more deeply about groundbreaking work in Nashville in our upcoming Virtual Learning to Nashville September 21-23, 2020. We encourage funders to register here and join us as we meet with Stand Up Nashville and The Equity Alliance, and of course, McDaniel and the CLC – and engage with film, music, and more to get a sense of the critical work in this changing Southern economic hub and its implications for worker power across the US.

There’s been a lot of attention to the South in regards to re-opening and the effects of COVID-19. We’ve talked a bit about the important crisis in meatpacking in central Tennessee. How have workers been responding and organizing in Nashville more broadly?

Nashville has become an East Coast entertainment hub - they call it “Nash-vegas” right?  And so hospitality is really the growth industry in the city, alongside health care.  The hospitality workers, mostly in restaurants and some in hotels, have been organizing. In fact some have started to reached out to Restaurant Opportunities Center (ROC) and have started a Nashville (Music City) chapter.  As we were reopening the economy, the press wanted to know what restaurant workers were feeling about it. What the workers saw were the dangers, and we've been working with them. [ROC Music City – a Stand Up Nashville partner - has also recently brought to light individual businesses that were hiding COVID-19 exposure, and won protections for workers in these small businesses.] It's really exciting to see the growth opportunity there in terms of organizing.

In health care, at Vanderbilt University Medical Center they didn't have enough staff when COVID hit so the company brought in temporary workers. The workers – the nurses - demanded that they get hazard pay because they saw that the temps were getting paid more. So we've seen collective action there.

In the dollar stores - both Family Dollar and Dollar General - because they cram so much cheap merchandise in the stores, there’s not a lot of room for social distancing. In many cases they're not providing the Personal Protective Equipment. When they bring their own mask we had reports that workers are told not to wear them – even when they're the homemade mask that they bring. Those workers have created a Facebook group and are really beginning to organize here and in other places. They have even reached out to those workers that have unionized In New Orleans to talk about what the differences in are in those stores and what they need to do to get a union in here, in Tennessee. [Dollar General staff in conversation with United Food and Commercial Workers Local 655 and speaking out about hazard pay were also targeted for firing by the company.]

One of the big issues in the South (and the Midwest) is the way conservative state governments have sought to stop everything from minimum wages to abortion through their power of pre-emption. How is this playing out in Nashville in this time?

Especially in this moment COVID-19 has presented a lot of challenges for our local government. Because of that there are things that they cannot do like paid sick leave, like property tax freezes. We're in a moment where our economy was based on sales tax which has gone to nothing, and so the revenue streams are just not what they need to be. In order to keep essential services running they have to raise property taxes, but all of the tools that local governments have to try to help in this moment have been stripped by state preemption. We've been preempted over and over again. We tried to pass living wage ordinance. We passed it; it was preempted. We passed on a ballot measure - local hire - so that we could hire local workers on public projects. That was passed by the voters of the county; it was preempted.

Those in state power have been using preemption to prevent cities from being able to do the things that they consider important to help their citizens. So we have a coalition across the state that has come together, that has been trying to run a campaign to put pressure on the governor to use his emergency powers to take action and make sure that at least in this moment that preemption is not an issue. The campaign gives us an opportunity to talk about what preemption is and how it's impacted our ability to help the residents of Nashville. I know it will continue beyond this pandemic and will only become more important to confront.

How do workers fit in the bigger picture of a changing Nashville, and the unprecedented development the city has been experiencing?

Every time you turn on the TV, they say Nashville is a city on the rise. But those in charge have been building it on the cheap. [In a telling incident this June, a 16 year old Latinx worker died falling off a scaffolding, building a new development in Nashville, with no safety harness and questionable safety practices by the company.]

"Every time you turn on the TV, they say Nashville is a city on the rise. But those in charge have been building it on the cheap. "

We have been able to work with our building trades affiliates to create an apprenticeship readiness program to recruit folks out of what they call the “promise zones” and give them the skills necessary to be successful in the federally registered apprenticeship programs and the union apprenticeship programs.  Our Central Labor Council has been a partner with that, and it's been interesting because in building that work, we've created a table that has faith partners working with us. The ecosystem is really coming together, and most of the recruits for our last class came from our faith partners. We've been able to develop relationships with the Interdenominational Ministers Fellowship which is the African-American ministers fellowship at Vanderbilt Divinity School. They recruited them out of the churches: the ministers knew they had returning citizens in their congregation that really needed a path to a different life. In reaching the immigrant community we had the Catholic Labor Network which was also really instrumental in helping us to really build a very diverse class also in our Multi-Craft Core Curriculum (MC3) program.

Stand Up Nashville, with the CLC is part of, along with a few of our unions and Nashville Organized for Action and Hope (NOAH), have been able to really move on the policy side to increase their presence and power for working families.

How have you resourced this significant growth in labor and community organizing?

You know, it's constant.  We are really trying to organize and build, and we really feel like that in Nashville we have set the table for growth for workers. We're excited about it - we have been trying to build infrastructure here for at least the last six to eight years.

But we find ourselves trying to having to chase funding in order to continue to do the work. The folks that oppose us, they don't have those barriers.  They have sustained funding for long periods of time - it really doesn't even matter whether they're successful and accomplish the benchmarks. We really have not had that kind of investment on our side, so we have to spend a great deal of your capacity right now on that.  Our CLC is in fundraising cycle; the reason is we have staffed up a level. We went from an all-volunteer organization to one with three staff. I mean, that's not a lot, but in order to be able to do and work with the community partners, keep up with what's happening in our local government, cultivate partnerships and organize you know that takes resources – the kind that it is very difficult to find funding for. We continue to look for ways to get investment in the work because we feel like that that, over time, there is definitely a return on that investment. You can see the growth in terms of all of the varied projects that people are working on that are part of our network, particularly in this moment.

Why is it important for those interested in economic justice to pay attention to Nashville at this moment?

You know there's a saying that however the South goes so goes the nation. Whatever is really bad in the South - if we cannot improve it here then eventually, it's going to trickle to the rest of the country. History has shown us that. Folks really should understand that what we do in the South, in terms of organizing, in terms of politics, in terms of all the things that we need to change in the economy - if we can't make change on the issues that matter in the South, then how will me make national change? This is a test ground for what happens across the country. But we are movinig to make that change.

*Photo Credit: Nashville CLC.

FJE’s Strike Watch is a regular blog and media series dedicated to providing insight on the ways in which grassroots movements build worker power through direct action. Our ultimate goal: inform philanthropic action to support worker-led power building and organizing and help bridge conversations among funders, community and research partners. We are grateful and acknowledge the many journalists and organizations that produce the content we link to regularly, and to all our participants in first-hand interviews. Questions on the content or ideas for future content? Reach out to robert@nfg.org

August 4, 2020

A Letter from IRSG Members in Honor of Isabel Arrollo

Dear Friends,

Isabel smiling and reaching up to a fruit tree in an orchard.On May 16, 2020, we lost a fierce, beloved leader in California’s Central Valley, Isabel Arrollo. Isabel was the Executive Director of El Quinto Sol de America, an organization founded by her mother, Irma Medellin, based in Lindsay, California. Isabel’s passion and strong strategic lens helped grow El Quinto Sol into a driving force for change in the Central Valley. From her early teenage years, Isabel worked at her mother’s side, lifting up community voices in local and state decision-making, and supporting residents across Tulare County’s unincorporated communities by connecting youth to arts and cultural work, and uplifting the tools to build civic participation and political power in the community. In recent years, her passion and vision to create an Agroecology Center in the Central Valley has lit a flame — one that we need to keep aglow.

In addition to the collective deep grief and sadness at this time, we are also angry and frustrated by the accumulated conditions of environmental, economic, and racial injustices that facilitated the process of her passing. We understand that extractive systems like industrial agriculture, subsidies that perpetuate land tenureship rooted in the forced migration of peoples and Beings, the exploitation of workers, and the polluting of the water she bathed in and the air she gasped onto holding onto the hope of survival and thriving of her people and their knowledge, are responsible for her illness of Valley fever, her death, and for the displacement of life of her future lineages. This racially targeting phenomenon is a form of prolonged violence, and as allies and co-conspirators in the struggle for justice, we need to show up to defend our neighbors and human relations.

We honor the life labor Isabel held as an organizer and community member, which went far beyond her role as Director at El Quinto Sol. She supported her community every day, and also invited folks outside of the community to witness and learn about the issues that are often invisibilized via the dust of pesticides and toxins, and the shadows of the fields. This included hosting funder tours for our philanthropic community during which she generously extended her energy to educate visitors and allies on the intersection of issue areas, and with great skill found multiple ways to illuminate the work for a wider audience, and moved us toward a tangible transition of wealth and power. She did this even while her health was failing; she did it for the livelihood and wellness of her people and her community.

Losing Isabel is heartbreaking, and our hearts are with her family, her co-workers at EQS, her wide and diverse network of friends and co-conspirators, and the many folks she mentored and stood beside every day, including youth and mixed documentation status farmworker communities. She dedicated her life to protecting the health of our air, water, soil, and peoples. Isabel was a brilliant visionary who helped lead the Community Alliance for Agroecology, and held such beautiful, powerful dreams for transforming the Central Valley’s food and farming systems from the ground up. Isabel will be forever remembered as a fierce advocate and as our caring and thoughtful friend who always made time to listen and offer words of encouragement, joy, and laughter. In this global moment of so much pain, loss and fear, we are called to action to uplift the voice and vision of leaders like Isabel, and carry them forward.

We ask that you seriously and thoughtfully consider these two requests:

  1. Isabel speaking to a group in front of a neighborhood bus stop.Make a contribution at this moment, at whatever level, to the environmental health and justice — and agroecological — organization, El Quinto Sol. The contact there is Olga Marquez, olga@elquintosoldeamerica.org.
  2. Become a funder accomplice in achieving Isabel’s and others’ dreams in the San Joaquin Valley — join us in support of the creation of an Agroecology Training Center, by and for a collective of Latinx and Indigenous farmworking families, Indigenous people from the region, and other family farmers. El Quinto Sol, as well as other groups like the Community Alliance for Agroecology, Central California Environmental Justice Network (CCEJN), Foodlink Tulare County, Quaker Oaks Farm, and Central Valley Partnership are moving forward in their visioning and planning, and seek collaboration with funding partners, especially in this moment.

If you would like to learn more about El Quinto Sol and the Agroecology Training Center, or if you are interested in collaborating with us as we move forward, please reach out to one of us (contacts below).

In the meantime, read inspiring coverage of the work of El Quinto Sol here: https://civileats.com/2019/08/12/this-mother-daughter-team-is-building-new-leaders-in-californias-farm-country/
 

Thank you, and be well,

Paola Diaz (paola@11thhourproject.org)

Marni Rosen (marni@colibrigiving.com)

Sarah Bell (sarah@11thhourproject.org)

Kat Gilje (gilje@cerestrust.org)

Kassandra Hishida (kassandrahishida@allianceforagroecology.org)