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The Declaration of Intent to Form a Greensboro Citizens Interim Police Review Committee

Consistent with our national governments declared purpose, state and local governments were established, among other things, to promote justice, ensure equal application of the law, and to provide for the general welfare of the people. In Greensboro, over a long period of time, we have witnessed a sanctioned pattern and practice of misconduct by sworn officers individuals who were sworn to uphold the law and apply it fairly. Over the years, these patterns and practices effectively constituted an entrenched negative sub-culture within the Greensboro Police Department (GPD). It is our conviction that the single strongest factor contributing to the establishment of the negative sub-culture, which has harmed a number of people and tarnished the image of the City, is the concentration of power within the police culture without adequate oversight. This is a violation of our nations well established democratic principle of government of the people by the people and for the people. In the last 24 months alone, the City of Greensboro has paid well over $3,000,000 in legal fees and civil lawsuit settlements related to police misconduct. Some of these settlements include: $15,000 to an 85 year-old African American woman, a bystander during a police arrest procedure, who was physically taken to the floor by a police officer and suffered a cracked wrist. $5,000 to a former African American police officer for improper actions taken by Greensboro City officials related to an incident in which that officer, though accused of improper actions, had, in fact, followed proper procedures. $180,000 to a current White female police captain, who complained of discrimination against her as a woman $500,000 to 38 Latino and African American current and former police officers to settle a civil lawsuit, which alleged racial discrimination and a hostile work environment. $2,300,000 in legal fees that continue to accumulate every week. All who have brought civil suits have alleged that they endured some form of misuse of power by members of the GPD. There has been no acknowledgement by the GPD of wrongdoing in any of these cases. In addition, several of the more outstanding officers have now filed civil lawsuits, alleging that they were wrongfully terminated primarily in retaliation for filing grievances about inappropriate behavior by their superiors. The legal outcome related to these charges is still pending. This pattern of abuse of power is not new. Approximately 30 years ago, several GPD officers were found liable for wrongful death in federal court, yet the GPD persists in alleging that they committed no wrongdoing, despite the fact that the City of Greensboro paid $351,000 awarded by the federal court. A number of citizens have filed official complaints with the City of Greensboro about improper behavior by police officers without receiving satisfactory responses. Many others have refused to file complaints with the GPD because of a lack of trust. In the last ten years, various requests have come from citizens of Greensboro to promote a more effective oversight mechanism for our police department. Recently, there was even an internationally-supported, citizen-led process of truth, reconciliation and healing, which was designed to help the City face its past and to collectively create more equitable, democratic policies and practices. Unfortunately that process was rebuffed by City officials. In light of these historical patterns and practices, and in an effort to prevent the misuse of power and to protect the rights of all the people of Greensboro, we declare as our right and duty our intent to establish a Greensboro Citizens Interim Police Review Committee.

Proposed Guiding Principles

1. The GCIPRC commits to conduct a thorough investigation of all allegations/complaints brought before it regarding the conduct of the GPD to our fullest capacity. 2. The GCIPRC commits to a high standard of honesty, integrity and, where appropriate, transparency. 3. The GCIPRC commits to carry out its work in a fair and impartial manner. 4. The GCIRC commits to advocate for training that will help elevate the conduct of every member of GPD beyond reproach. 5. The GCIRC commits to cooperate with the established Complaint Review Committee (CRC) and any other relevant agency of the City of Greensboro. This will include forwarding our findings to the CRC for its consideration. 6. The GCIRC affirms that it does not view itself as a permanent body. Rather, the GCIRC commits to function until the City of Greensboro develops an empowered Greensboro Citizens Review Board that commands the respect of the entire community, especially the most marginalized among us.