April 25, 2012
Vol: 19 No: 17


Cit councilors see blurry vision in mayor’s 20/20 plan for police

By Aaron Burkhalter / Staff Reporter

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An hour of questioning did little to illuminate Mayor Mike McGinn’s SPD 20/20 plan.

City Councilmember Bruce Harrell questioned Assistant Chief Mike Sanford April 18 at a Public Safety Committee meeting on how much the plan would cost and how the police department would measure success.

He even prodded Sanford to explain at a basic level what SPD 20/20 is.

Sanford called it reform and “the pursuit of excellence.” He did not explain how SPD 20/20 fits with the city’s negotiations with the Department of Justice. The negotiations address a December 2011 report that showed that city police have a pattern and practice of excessive force.

Harrell fell just short of openly criticizing SPD 20/20, quipping that it at least had a catchy title. But did he leave the meeting with a clearer picture of the plan?

“Not really,” Harrell said.

He and other councilmembers are largely in the dark when it comes to negotiations with the DOJ. Because the DOJ could file a lawsuit against the city, only McGinn, City Attorney Pete Holmes and police officials are allowed in the meetings with the DOJ.

For a plan meant to improve accountability and transparency, Harrell found precious few details on how SPD 20/20 will work.

“Who’s measuring this?” Harrell asked after the meeting. “Who’s making sure we’re succeeding?”

Harrell could not even glean who was involved in drafting SPD 20/20.

Sanford said the mayor and police collected input from the community and the plan was drafted by SPD.

But Harrell said he has not met any rank-and-file police officers or community members involved in the process.

“I don’t think that’s an effective way to go about a strong public safety plan,” Harrell said.



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