Port Townsend City Council approves ad hoc work plan

Panel initially to focus on current policies, statistics

PORT TOWNSEND — The Port Townsend City Council has unanimously approved a work plan for the ad hoc committee on Public Safety and Law Enforcement.

Council members approved the resolution during a special meeting Monday evening.

The ad hoc committee is made up of the entire City Council, making it a committee of the whole. The committee can not take action during committee meetings, only during designated City Council meetings.

The council had agreed June 29 to form the committee to investigate policing following protests of police brutality in the May 25 death of George Floyd in Minneapolis and the creation of a Black Lives Matter mural for a Juneteenth commemoration that drew more than 1,000 people in Port Townsend.

The special committee meets virtually on the last Monday of each month at 5 p.m. until its final meeting Dec. 31.

The work plan the committee approved includes:

• Aug. 24: Discussing budget information and additional statistics to input into a draft budget.

• Sept. 28: Discussing alternatives to law enforcement response to input into the budget.

• Oct. 26: Discussing current policies and policy options and use of force, with recommendations forwarded to the council.

• Nov. 23: Discussing collective bargaining and qualified immunity to input into the legislative agenda.

• Dec. 28: Discussing and preparing a final report to the council.

The council may revise the work plan depending on the future discussions.

Council member Ariel Speser asked how the public could provide comment to the committee directly, outside of general public comment.

Mayor Michelle Sandoval said the work plan is for the council members to be informed on the specific statistics and policies of Port Townsend law enforcement before conducting a community conversation.

“The intention of this committee was to gather information about our police force,” Sandoval said, “to gather information specifically to get us educated, to dig into the policy that is on the books currently and the statistics of the policing that has occurred in the past, to use that moving forward for a discussion with the community.

“It felt to me … that, without us actually having statistics and data, moving forward into an open discussion with the community, specifically with the BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People Of Color) community, would be not as helpful and could be in fact irresponsible if we did not have information about what the policy is, what the statistics show, and then have discussions with the broader community to reflect back on.”

Sandoval further said it is important to hear from the BIPOC community, and that council members need to also be informed about the current policies and statistics before they can have the larger outreach.

The full meeting can be viewed at tinyurl.com/PDN-WorkPlan.

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Jefferson County reporter Zach Jablonski can be reached by email at [email protected] or by phone at 360-385-2335, ext. 5.

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