Tigard mayor proposes public safety transformation commission
Tigard's mayor is moving forward with plans to create a Tigard Public Safety Transformation Commission to consider and act on issues important to the community involving the city's police department.
That commission would research and look at a variety of topics — everything from accountability and transparency to police use of force — before deciding whether to forward the issue to the Tigard City Council for final approval.
Mayor Jason Snider said his proposal is the result of about a month and a half of constant communication and questions from the community.
Snider said the city has received more than 200 emails, phone calls and social media messages following the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer in May and subsequent calls for police reform across the nation.
Tigard residents also weighed in on those topics during the mayor's regular fireside chats, some of which saw Tigard Police Chief Kathy McAlpine participate and answer community questions as well.
"I'm reacting to what Tigard needs now and what I'm hearing from our community, and that's my job," Snider said about creating the commission.
In early June, the mayor challenged the Tigard community to eliminate institutional racism and said he wants to ensure equity in all city operations and structures. Snider wrote out a draft proposal that stresses the goal of improving "the lived experience of all persons of color in Tigard such that everyone enjoys the safety and privilege that white men do today."
"We'd asked for feedback about how we should tackle these things, and we really didn't get any," Snider said. As a result, Snider said, he came up with a plan for a group to make community consensus-based decisions.
The potential composition of the commission would be 12 people, and would ideally include the police chief or another police administrator, one sworn officer, the city attorney, the city's municipal court judge, the president of the Tigard High School Black Student Union or a designee, the youth city councilor, a licensed mental health professional or leader of a mental health organization, and five at-large residents, with a preference to those who can best represent the city's people of color.
It would take votes by at least 10 of the 12 members to bring proposals to implement changes to the Tigard City Council under Snider's initial proposal.
The mayor said he's still soliciting feedback from both Chief McAlpine and the Tigard Police Officers' Association, the union that represents sworn officers, as well as other city officials on how the commission will be put together.
Since the mayor's proposal is in its early stages, McAlpine doesn't have any comment on it yet, according to Kelsey Anderson, a spokesperson for the Tigard Police Department.
At the same time, the city and its staff are working on an anti-racist action plan, which addresses the work of other city departments in addressing how to "eliminate institutional racism from all city programs and structures."
"I would point out that we have just as much work to do in the city as we do in public safety, but we didn't get hundreds of communications (regarding other departments)," said Snider. "In fact, we got very few communications about anything else besides public safety from the community."
While Tigard plans to have a third party help formulate the anti-racist action plan, a draft of the document states it wants to "ensure we are not asking communities of color to solve this problem that was created by white people. Also, do not expect trainers, coaches, consultants or anyone else to do this work for us."
Snider said he wants to now see feedback from the community, with plans to move forward with creating a Tigard Public Safety Transformation Plan as quickly as possible.
"I'd like to see this group doing work in the mid- to late part of August at the latest," said Snider.
Residents can solicit their feedback later this week by visiting the Tigard Community for All page. The draft of the mayor's proposal is expected to be discussed during a Tigard City Council meeting set for Tuesday night.
Meanwhile, Snider plans to share his plan on the formation of a Tigard Public Safety Transformation Commission with Washington County mayors during the group's Monday meeting.
(This updates a previous version of this story with a response from Tigard's police chief.)
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