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Birmingham Public Safety Task Force to release report in November

The mayor’s office created the task force in July for a broader assessment of public safety in Birmingham.

The Birmingham Public Safety Task Force, an independent public safety assessment committee formed by Mayor Randall Woodfin in July, will release its cumulative report in November.

In the aftermath of the police killing of George Floyd and the subsequent months of nationwide protest, an initial 30-day internal investigation conducted by the mayor’s office assessed the Birmingham Police Department’s practices and contact in congruence with the 8 Can’t Wait movement’s national guidelines.

This report, released in July, found that the BPD “meets or exceeds all eight standards of #8CantWait.”

The mayor’s office created the task force shortly after for a broader assessment of public safety in Birmingham.

Originally, the task force would have released these subsequent findings and recommendations this month, but after discussion, the task force determined it needed more time before releasing its final report.

“We have been working diligently to provide Mayor Randall L. Woodfin and Councilor Hunter Williams with thoughtful and workable recommendations to improve public safety in the city,” the task force said in a statement. “We have determined that we need more time for discussions and research before we release a final report. That report will be made in November.”

The later stages of the task force’s investigation will prioritize community input through listening session, according to the mayor’s office. Nine such listening session — with support from the Office of Peace & Policy — have been called since July.

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In one such special public safety meeting on Oct. 1, community members proposed a permanent independent police review or advisory board, among other public safety proposals. The two models for this proposed review board would not determine guilt or innocence of officers, but punishment for misconduct in “rare circumstances,” or when a citizen has been seriously injured by a police officer.

“This review board would in no way try to determine guilt or innocence for a police officer,” community member Jermaine Stanton said during his discussion with the task force on Oct. 1. “For this review board to even come into effect, it has already been determined that a police officer overstepped. It’ll be a potential police officer standing before this board, after it has already been determined that the action that they did commit was egregious or unlawful. This board will only deal with punishment.”

Stanton also proposed that the review board be comprised of three community members and two superiors of the accused officer. The final decision of the review board would pass before the mayor and chief of police for enactment or dismissal.

If Birmingham were to adopt such an independent review board, they would join Huntsville, Mobile and Montgomery as one of the many cities in Alabama to have proposed or adopted an independent citizen police assessment board.

The last listening session for the task force, focusing on input from community activists, will be held Monday at 12 p.m.

John is a reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter. You can contact him at [email protected] or via Twitter.

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