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.
Clearly, Worcester’s leaders would rather this conversation end quietly than actually address the issues that led to the City Council’s vote in the first place.
This petition has three demands for officials in Worcester, MA city government:
- Support the Worcester branch of the NAACP’s call that Chairperson Claros resign from the Board of Health
- Provide an opportunity for the BOH to have a fair and open meeting with public comment regarding race and policing in Worcester
- Demand that City Manager Edward Augustus, city councilors, and the WPD incorporate the following BOH recommendations into official WPD policies:
1. Acknowledge that white supremacist, racist and bigoted viewpoints are pervasive among a significant amount of white police officers (and perhaps others) throughout police departments in the U.S., and that does not exclude the Worcester Police Department.
2. Commit to urgently developing a comprehensive plan to identify (i.e. through previous actions, social media, background checks, etc.) those police officers that possess these viewpoints.
3. Once these officers with these views are identified, commit to educate, re‐train and/or if necessary, preclude (in the case of cadets) or dismiss (in the case of current officers) officers who possess these viewpoints and are inclined to impose these views to mistreat (i.e. physically, verbally, legally, etc.) black, brown and other historically discriminated racial and socio‐ economic groups.
4. Be immediately and continuously transparent and fair in the investigation of police officers who have been accused of police misconduct/brutality.
5. Commit to working with a newly established, community police misconduct review board whom are comprised of residents of the city of Worcester, are not current or former members of law enforcement and are mostly members of the following communities: African‐Americans, Latinos, Native Americans; as well as members from the following communities: a. LGBTQ+ b. Mental Health c. Homeless d. Drug/Alcohol Recovery e. Youth f. Low-Income G. Domestic Violence Survivors
6. Commit to developing healthy and non‐violent relationships with all members of the African‐American community and other members of communities that have a history of suffering police brutality and misconduct.
7. Establish a consistent periodic schedule to update the members of the BOH and the Worcester Community (i.e. via the media and in‐person community meetings, etc) on the progress of their efforts.
8. Commit to developing healthy and non- violent relationships with all members of the African-American community and other members of communities that have a history of suffering police brutality and misconduct.
9. Adopt the element of the Massachusetts Black and Latino Legislative Caucus“ 10 Point Plan” that includes this specific item: Adopt clear statutory limits on police use of force, including choke-holds and other tactics known to have deadly consequences. Require independent investigation of officer-related deaths. Require data collection and reporting on race, regarding all arrests and police use of force by every department.
10. Adopt the element of the Massachusetts Black and Latino Legislative Caucus“ 10 Point Plan” that includes this specific item: Civil Service Exam Review and Oversight: Establishes an Office of Diversity and Equal Opportunity to establish guidelines and review for diversity plans for all state agencies; Establishes a peace officer exam advisory board to review examinations for appointment and promotion of peace officers.
11. Commit to providing training on and implementation of internal and external de- escalation resources.
12. Establish a consistent periodic schedule to update the members of the BOH and the Worcester Community (i.e. via the media and in-person community meetings, etc) on the progress of your efforts.