This coming Tuesday at 4:30, the Public Schools Standing Committee On Finance And Operations will meet to discuss preliminary budget estimates for fiscal year 2022. There will be time devoted to public participation. You can look at the agenda here. We encourage everyone to watch or listen. We haven’t prepared any scripts for this meeting because we just have one question: Why is the city projecting a cost of $742,094 for cops in schools for the upcoming year if they’ve already voted to remove them by 2022?
Worcester Police Department has refused to even acknowledge its own systemic racism. To ensure that Worcester citizens know the truth Defund WPD is releasing information about 42 lawsuits that have been filed against the WPD in the last decade. More than half of these lawsuits were filed by members of Worcester’s Black, Latinx, Asian, and LGBTQ+ population. These lawsuits incontrovertably demonstrate that the WPD has a problem with systemic racism.
This coming Monday at 6:30, the Board of Health will meet to discuss mass shootings, gun violence, institutional racism, and police reform. There will be time devoted to public participation. You can look at the agenda here. This meeting is an important opportunity to let the city know about community experiences with the police. We encourage everyone to watch or listen. However, we expect that there will not be enough time for everyone to speak so please only plan on speaking if you have an experience to share.
After months of organizing by Black Families Together, the Board of Health, the Human Rights Commission, LEON, the Worcester branch of the NAACP, Worcester Interfaith, and others, City Manager Ed Augustus and his office broke months of silence and released a list of reforms aimed at addressing systemic racism in the WPD and the broader Worcester government. The full report can be read here. These reforms and many other items are on the agenda for Tuesday night.
On Friday, February 12th, 2021, WPD Chief Steve Sargent and Deputy Chief Paul Saucier discussed ShotSpotter Connect on Hank Stolz’s “Talk of the Commonwealth’’ radio show. Throughout the interview, both members of the WPD misrepresented, misinterpreted, and oversimplified the facts surrounding ShotSpotter Connect and predictive policing. We have decided to fact-check the WPD’s claims about ShotSpotter Connect because the City Council as a whole has done very little fact-finding on its own.
ShotSpotter Flex vs. ShotSpotter Connect ShotSpotter Flex is a gunshot detection system that notifies the police department when and where gunfire occurs in the city. Currently, six square miles of Worcester is covered by ShotSpotter Flex. ShotSpotter Connect uses crime data analysis to predict where crime will occur. Whereas ShotSpotter Flex reacts to events (like a gunshot, fireworks, or engine backfire) ShotSpotter Connect uses artificial intelligence to create what they claim are “high probability crime forecasts.
City council is meeting on Tuesday and we all need to be calling in or watching. We have created scripts full of talking points and ideas for you to help formulate what you will say. We are always here if you need extra support preparing - send us an email at email@example.com if you have questions. This week, our focus is on the ShotSpotter Predictive Policing Contract Proposal, and the Green Worcester Plan is on the agenda as well.
Over the past few days, we in Defund WPD have been reflecting on the insurrection at the United States’ Capitol on Wednesday. We saw a police force ill-equipped to hold accountable neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and others who wanted to overturn a democratic election. Furthermore, on-duty Capitol Police reported that off-duty police officers were among those storming the building and displayed their badges while doing so. None of this should surprise us.
This summer, Worcester’s City Council unanimously agreed that racism is a “public health emergency.” Just a few days later, Worcester’s appointed members of the Board of Health (BOH) introduced 12 recommendations for how the Worcester Police Department could better address systemic racism within the department as well as in how it interacts with the larger Worcester community. So far, BOH’s efforts have been stifled. Board of Health Chair Edith Claros and city officials have stood in the way of the Board’s ability to enact these measures, stonewalled public comment, dismissed co-board members’ testimonials about race and the WPD, and tried to tilt the scales of public participation in favor of police over Worcester residents.
City council is meeting on Tuesday and we all need to be calling in or watching. We have created scripts full of talking points and ideas for you to help formulate what you will say. We are always here if you need extra support preparing - send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have questions. This week, our focus is on the following topics: Body cameras Diversity Attack on Board of Health by Colorio Transparency and Accountability Liability Insurance There is even more, and you can read about it in the documents linked below!