Davenport civil rights commission held special meeting Saturday

The Davenport Civil Rights Commission held a special meeting to address police reform Saturday morning.
Published: Aug. 1, 2020 at 7:44 PM CDT
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DAVENPORT, Iowa (KWQC) - The Davenport Civil Rights Commission held a special meeting to address police reform Saturday morning. Ahead of Saturday’s meeting, remarks were made between Civil Rights Commission members and the Davenport Police Union.

During Saturday’s meeting, many in the community opened up about their experiences with Davenport Police, concerns they have, and potential solutions.

Commissioner Janelle Swanberg opened up the meeting.

“It is an opportunity for all of us to hear each other and to hope the city can achieve an action plan that will truly be about racial and social justice. A plan that will support the entire community. Especially the minority community as well as police officers and city officials,” Swanberg said.

“Our goal is not to lay blame but rather to openly and honestly discuss the hard issue of racial disparities in our community. This is a painful, difficult conversation, but it is a conversation that needs to be had and a time for it, we feel is now,” she said.

Mayor Mike Matson joined in on the conversation.

“We’re committed to talking and working with you and all the other groups to enhance it and provide better police, better actions with our police and our community,” he said,” I look forward to that continued discussion and to provide guidance and policy and actions as we move forward, but it’s important to hear everybody’s thoughts, so we can take under consideration, all of those things.”

Matson also said anybody who calls his office and leaves their name and number will get a callback.

Throughout the roughly 2 and a half-hour meeting, people from the community shared their anecdotes and experiences they’ve had with Davenport Police. People voiced their approval and disapproval of the current state of policing in Davenport.

Chester Shafer was among the voices who were in support.

“If you discover a bad policeman, retrain them or fire them. You must hold them accountable,” he said.

Shafer said more training, better equipment, and more officers would improve law enforcement.

“I think our police are honest, professional, and do a good a good job risking their lives to keep us safe. Do not think that we will somehow be safer by removing funds by our police department,” he said.

Andrew Defrize was among the dissenters of the expansion of policing. He said reform policies like implicit bias training, rigid and clear officer discipline matrix for accountability only look good on paper.

“They have been scrutinized by research, by scholars and found there’s been no significant effect on officer-involved shootings or use of force incidents,” he said

He said police cannot police themselves and said reallocating some of their funds to the public is the only way to hold police accountable.

“Our most vulnerable community members will directly benefit from more affordable housing, more reliable transportation, and so on. More, better-funded police is not the answer. Defund the police,” he said.

The commission is planning to have another special meeting on August 15th at 10 am. They’ll also have a regular meeting on August 11th at 12 pm. They said the special meeting will include invitations to Mayor Matson, Davenport Police Chief, the head of Davenport Police Union, the city council, and the Davenport Superintendent of schools.

All meetings are open to the public. Check their website to see the agenda and register for those meetings.

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