Agendas and Minutes

City Council (View All)

Study Session

Thursday, August 10, 2006

August 10, 2006
Civic Center Council Chambers
1175 E. Main Street

Mayor Morrison called the Study Session to order at 7:30 p.m. in the Civic Center Council Chambers.
Councilors Silbiger, Hartzell, Amarotico, Hardesty, and Chapman were present. Councilor Jackson was absent.
1. Presentation on Draft Final Report of Study by the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF).
Craig Fraser, Director of Management Services for Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) presented the Policing Ashland Final Report. He gave a brief summary of the company's background and their work history.

Mr. Fraser commented that the issues seem to involve the style or role of the Police Department and the difference between two different styles of management. He stated that their report reflects comments made from elected officials, the business community, focus groups, staff and citizens that attended large public meetings. He felt that they had been able to get a good sense toward the style and direction for the Police Department. He stated that there were a series of scope items that were integrated into the report and the report would provide a blueprint for the department to move forward with.

Mr. Fraser presented the following eleven elements from the report:

• The transformation process should begin with the Chief of Police convening a task force to re-examine the Ashland Police Department's mission, vision and values. The task force should be composed on a cross-section of the APD and should include community representation.
• Organizational Structure. The department's organizational structure needs to be altered to promote clear lines of authority, accountability, and responsibility.
• The department should re-organize the patrol group to promote better coverage, enhanced opportunities for community engagement, time for problem solving and improved officer safety.
• The department needs to reconsider the characteristics of the people it recruits, hires and promotes.
• The department needs to reconsider how it trains its employees. This review should include entry-level training, field training, in-service training, and specialized training. Each should be considered in the context of how it supports community policing and problem solving.
• Once members of the department have been trained in community policing and problem solving, the Police Department should take the lead in establishing several problem solving task forces. Based on issues raised during site visits and in subsequent communications with PERF staff, problems ripe for attack include homelessness and transient populations, perception of disorder downtown and police/youth relationships.
• The department needs to create a performance appraisal system that not only strives to recognize and measure traditional police skills but also community policing and problem solving behaviors. This combination of factors should be integrated with regard to every position in the department. A useful system will require that supervisors spend a substantial amount of their time in the field observing how officers operate and provide service, both in a law enforcement and community engagement context.
• The department should create a career development system so as employees become skilled and adept at community policing and problem solving they can advance in pay and status. These skills should be rewarded as should traditional skills that come with experience and advanced training.
• The department needs to improve both internal and external communications.
• The Ashland Police Department should reconsider elements of its employee disciplinary process.
• The Ashland Police Department should reconsider elements of its Use of Force and Critical Incident policies and procedures.

Mr. Fraser stated the key to success is moving forward and a commitment by the department for community problem solving. He asked that the Council consider the sequence of these recommendations and noted the need to hire a new Police Chief. He explained that implementation of these recommendations would be a 6-12 month process and that substantial action should be taken within a year's time, but he acknowledged that it would be dependent upon hiring a new Police Chief.

He explained that their approach was to create a structure on how a department should work, which included a strong sense of vision, outreach in the community, and a strong set of values. He felt that this plan would give the community an opportunity to determine what they want and how to interact with the department.

Mr. Fraser held discussion with the Council regarding providing officers with less lethal means of force. He explained different tools that could be used, including pepper spray and tasers and stated there are alternative methods for the community to consider. He explained it is usually "Structure vs. People" and that it was important that the right structure be put in place and to look at how people react to the structure. He stated that it is best developed around solving problems.

Mr. Fraser also stated that it was important to have the community involved in how the department is doing through interaction with Council or annual community surveys that have specific questions.

Discussion was had in regards to why some police officers to do not live in the community and several examples were given, such as officers not wanting to be "24 hour cops" and that they choose not to live in the community they work in. It was noted that focus groups had indicated their desire for officers to be part of the community. There was a recommendation that we explore an affordable housing program.

Discussion was had regarding the use of Mobile Data Computers (MDC's) and how effective they are. It was recommended that monitoring officers use of time would be the role of the sergeant and further information on statistics for reports from MDC's could be obtained from the Medford Police Department.

It was noted that the School Resource Officer Program (SRO) was found favorable by a number of people and that it was an opportunity to have a connection between the police department and youth.

Further discussion was had on the importance of training and the level of training that is offered by the State of Oregon. It was explained that the state's basic training is a ten-week course and that previously it had been a 21-week course when it was the Police Corps. Mr. Fraser encouraged supplemental training and stated the field training program develops skills in problem solving and community policing. PERF recommended adoption of the Police Training Officer program developed by the Community Oriented Policing Services Office of the Department of Justice.

Mr. Fraser suggested using the PERF report when hiring the new Police Chief as it would be a useful way to ask candidates to give their perspective.

John Stromberg/252 Ridge Road/Questioned how the City should go about getting members of the Police Department who are reluctant to this style of policing to participate in the actions recommended in the report.

Mr. Fraser stated that he believes there will be a number of officers who want to get involved. He also recommended the City recruit individuals that have experience with community policing. Interim Police Chief Ron Goodpaster noted the department has already taken steps to get a person in the organization that is more prone towards community policing and problem solving and have revamped the hiring process, changed the psychological review, and reorganized the field training program.

Mr. Stromberg asked how the recommendations of the task force would be formalized. Mr. Fraser recommended this be approved by the Council and noted the importance of having a level of approval from the community. Mr. Goodpaster noted the use of a citizens advisory committee to make sure everything stays on track after the recommendations are adopted.

Mat Marr/955 North Mountain Avenue/Noted he is a member of the Ashland School Board and asked which of the two positions (School Resource Officer or Youth Diversion Position) they should prioritize.

Mr. Fraser recommended the School Resource Officer and suggested the School Board contact other school districts who have implemented this position to discuss their concerns regarding whether the officer must carry a firearm. He clarified funding sources for this position varies and commented on the importance of sustained interaction with the youth.

Councilor Chapman requested staff schedule a time for Council to get a more complete feedback from the Interim Police Chief and the City Administrator. City Administrator Martha Bennett clarified the Council will need to have a discussion on which parts of the report they would like to adopt and recommended additional public input before they take action. She noted that unless directed otherwise, staff will use the report as part of the recruitment process.

Council questioned the difference between the draft and final report. Mr. Fraser explained there was some expansion in the final report and they fine tuned some wording, however there were no substantiative changes. Mayor Morrison noted a typographical error on page 15 and stated the date was incorrect. Request was made for Council discussion of this issue to be scheduled in way that allows time for meaningful public input.

Meeting adjourned at 9:02 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,
Barbara Christensen, City Recorder

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