BY CANDACE HOLLINGSWORTH — “For you, and for any dear to you, I would do anything. If my career were of that better kind that there was any opportunity or capacity of sacrifice in it, I would embrace any sacrifice for you and for those dear to you. Try to hold me in your mind, at some quiet times, as ardent and sincere in this one thing. [W]hen you see your own bright beauty springing up anew at your feet, think now and then that there is a man who would give his life, to keep a life you love beside you!”
― Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities
Since the tragic week that we all experienced [the week of July 4] there have been inquiries to Chief Holland about how our department trains officers and works to minimize the likelihood of these incidents occurring in Hyattsville—incidents that result in citizen deaths particularly those where implicit bias may play a role in the outcome. At the same time, our officers who serve and protect Hyattsville, its residents, and visitors, want to know that we are doing all we can to ensure their safety while doing their jobs on our behalf. For me, satisfying this mission isn’t a choice.
We have an obligation to continue creating a climate where relationships between and within the community and law enforcement are trusting and legitimate.
We have an obligation to meet the needs of our civilian and sworn employees to ensure their safety in the workplace and protection from imminent danger as they carry out the duties required of them on a daily basis.
We have any obligation to affirm the humanity of the residents and employees who live in the skin they’re in day in and day out and that they deserve and should expect fair and equal treatment under the law. Treatment that is free of bias, implicit or otherwise no matter who you are, who you love, or where you live.
These are not mutually exclusive. They’re simple for me to profess, but require us to work together to achieve.
Here’s what we are doing:
The Mayor, Council, City Administrator, Chief of Police, and all staff are committed to and supportive of community policing. We are identifying the areas where we are meeting expectations or excelling in this regard and where we need to improve. We will be using this assessment (which will be based on the pillars of the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing) to determine our operational and financial imperatives over the next few years.
Under the leadership of the Chief of Police and City Administrator, the Hyattsville City Police Department will continue training officers in verbal defense and influence as we’ve done for the past two years. This training equips our officers with the skills necessary to properly manage, defuse, and de-escalate conflicts and encounters with and between citizens.
Similarly, the Hyattsville City Police Department is actively training current officers and academy graduates on fair and impartial policing. This training uses real-life case studies (from experiences in Hyattsville and elsewhere) to help officers identify or uncover implicit biases and learn skills and techniques to ensure fairness even in high-stress situations.
The Hyattsville City Police Department is committed to maintaining its CALEA (Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies) accreditation. CALEA offers a set of recommendations that support excellence in law enforcement operations and a third-party review to reinforce accountability. The Hyattsville City Police Department has been continuously accredited since 1999. This is a voluntary accreditation that only 10% of the approximately 18,000 police departments in the United States have achieved.
The Chief of Police has my complete support for all of these efforts.
Here’s what’s needed from each of you:
Wrap your minds, hearts, and arms (physically and virtually) around each other.
Cling not to what once was, but to the shared goal of making Hyattsville a place that continues to be beautiful, safe, fair, just, and not merely tolerant, but inclusive of our diverse backgrounds, races/ethnicities, identities, sexual orientations, languages, cultures, upbringings, religions, professions, and experiences.
Serve in loco parentis of our next generation of Hyattsvillians and model for them the community we wish to grow and preserve for our work will become their work soon.
Send us your suggestions, thoughts, and questions. You can always email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or the entire council at email@example.com. If you’d like to reach a specific person, please use our directory at http://www.hyattsville.org/Directory.aspx.