Dayton citizens call for end of ‘over-policing’ and other reforms

Black Lives Matter Dayton on Sunday unveiled a plan that calls for policing and policy changes and new accountability measures, which comes after weeks of protests against police misconduct and racial discrimination.

The local grassroots group says community members developed a 10-point list of reforms that they believe can dramatically improve how Black citizens are treated by law enforcement in the city.

Community members also say the plan seeks to reduce over-policing, racial profiling, police violence, mass incarceration and other harmful practices and outcomes.

“Beyond improving relations between law enforcement and the citizens they are sworn to protect, we seek to dismantle the stronghold of policing practices that have been rooted in racist and white supremacist ideologies that target, disrupt, abuse and kill Black people,” said community member Cameron Walker.

MORE: Dayton reviewing complaints about police actions during protests

About two-thirds of U.S. adults now support the Black Lives Matter movement, according to the Pew Research Center, and other national polls show large and growing bipartisan support for police reforms.

This plan is the latest addition to a growing list of local, state and national proposals aimed at changing police practices and improving police-community relations.

On Sunday, Black Lives Matter Dayton held a press conference to announce a list of reforms some community members say they want to see the city of Dayton adopt and enact.

Community members reviewed Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley’s five-part plan for police reforms and have come up with their own demands for needed changes that will ensure the protection of Black citizens and their civil rights, Walker said.

The list of demands include:

  • Immediately ban no-knock warrants and the use of chokeholds.
  • Eliminate pretext traffic stops and "sniff and smell" stops.
  • Dismantle the ShotSpotter program.
  • Re-implement the residency rule for newly hired officers.
  • Re-establish the five districts police model.
  • Demilitarize the police.
  • Establish limitations on qualified immunity and a police bill of rights.
  • Reorganize the police department.
  • Establish a reparations program.
  • Introduce an online customer satisfaction survey for public comments.

Citizens and activist groups across the nation have called on police to eliminate no-knock warrants and chokeholds, which were thrust into the spotlight because of high-profile, officer-involved killings, notably that led to the deaths of Breonna Taylor in Louisville and Eric Garner in New York City.

The “militarization” of police departments also has been criticized by many citizens, especially after protests that led to some clashes with police, including in Dayton, where officers deployed tear gas and chemical spray, donned body armor and riot equipment and fired rubber bullets, bean bags and pepper balls.

Some people claim officers used excessive and unnecessary force against peaceful protesters.

The community is over-policed and people want that to stop, said Carlos Buford, founder of Black Lives Matter Dayton.

Multiple speakers on Sunday said police must end pre-text traffic stops in which officers use minor traffic and vehicle equipment offenses to justify pulling over vehicles to search for signs of other criminal activities.

These traffic stops are a harmful form of over-policing that can lead to encounters that result in police using force, potentially hurting or killing citizens, speakers said.

The city should get rid of its ShotSpotter program because the technology also can contribute t o over-policing, said Jared Grandy, Dayton’s former community-police relations coordinator who resigned last monthciting frustration with police leadership.

The program, which uses audio sensors to detect gunfire and dispatch officers to the scenes, is very controversial and did not have the support of the community, Grandy said at Sunday’s press conference.

Black people are at a massive economic disadvantage because of the long history of racist and discriminatory laws and practices, including redlining, community members said.

The city needs a reparations program to reallocate local, state and federal criminal justice funds away from locking up Black people to be used for things like grants and investments in Black businesses and neighborhoods, said Michael Motley, a community member.

New policies and legislative changes are needed to ensure that law enforcement officers are held accountable for their actions, said Dionne Burney, the mother of 25-year-old Kesharn Burney, who was killed in an officer-involved shooting in Harrison Twp. in July 2017.

“I am no longer requesting justice,” she said. “I demand justice. I demand that the officers are held accountable.”

Burney said the sheriff’s office did not release a video of the incident until nearly two years later, just before the statute of limitations ran out to file a civil lawsuit. She said the video contradicted some of law enforcement’s statements about the fatal shooting and should have been made publicly available immediately.

The city of Dayton says it has not seen the plan and can’t comment on it until that happens, a spokesperson said.

But at least one of the proposed changes could be difficult to achieve and would require new legislation.

That's because the city of Dayton used to have a residency requirement for its employees, but the Ohio Supreme Court in 2009 upheld a state law prohibiting cities from enacting and enforcing residency requirements.

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