Dear Mayor Barrett:
You have said that you want this to be a city where people respect and trust the police department. The obstructionism and abuse that occurred at the Fire and Police Commission Thursday, September 4th did little to advance this goal.
Our group, (including Nathaniel and Maria Hamilton), was deliberately escorted to a different room from where the public meeting was being held. When finally directed to the right place, officers initially demanded our IDs, then blocked access to the meeting entirely. Neither community members nor the family of Dontre Hamilton were allowed in.
Further, when we formed an unarmed, peaceful human chain at the exit doors, officers pushed, shoved, and stepped on top of us. Trampling was an immediate concern; at least one community member, Andrea Rick, was injured. After the officers rammed their way through, they removed the names from their badges. This type of belligerent disregard for public safety and transparency is what precipitated the need for our presence at the meeting in the first place.
Many of us are troubled by the culture of secrecy and evasiveness throughout the MPD. It comes at the expense of the trust and respect you wish to inspire in our police force. Decisive action is needed to restore faith within our community, including:
1) Immediately releasing the name of the officer who shot Dontre Hamilton at Red Arrow Park. Release the incident report as well. The public has a right to know.
2) Have all information regarding any officer involved in a criminal investigation publicly released at the time the incident occurs, including their name and incident report. Also, the officer should immediately be suspended without pay during the investigation.
3) Implement a Principal & Accessory policy to address officers who do not intervene upon witnessing excessive force.
4) Free and open access to all public meetings. It is our right to participate in public meetings free of obstruction and abuse.
5) Department-wide implementation of body cameras.
Transparency and mutual respect will go a long way toward your stated goal of building trust in our police department. We would greatly appreciate your leadership in this process. The safety of our community is at stake.