Thursday, June 11, 2020

Canton officials stress bias training of police

Canton Township Supervisor Pat Williams recently responded to a communication from a resident who had questions about policies and police procedures in the township.
Brandt Bowling wrote to Williams asking if the Canton Police Department had stringent background checks to vet new police officers and ensure they are not members of various hate groups.
Chad Baugh
Brandt asked Williams what procedures are in place to ensure accountability in the police department performance.
Brandt said he was prompted to write by the current racial injustices which have been taking place in the country. 
Williams responded very promptly to Brandt, expressing his personal sadness at the death of George Floyd at the hands of police officers and assuring him of the pride, professionalism and dedication of the Canton Police Department.
“I can say with absolute confidence that the Canton Police Department works hard every day to faithfully serve our entire community.
The department has developed a workforce with the mindset and skills to build a foundation of public trust and service, with a sincere commitment to our wonderfully diverse community,” Williams responded.
Pat Williams
“We continuously strive to have our officers performing at the highest regional and national standards. The Canton Police Department officers train tirelessly on measures and techniques to mitigate the use of force, allowing them to rely on non-lethal force methods to bring about safe resolutions. In fact, the department has created a progressive legal training model for our police employees, which focuses on the use of force and Fourth Amendment criminal law. The educational and training pieces have extended into mental health de-escalation protocols and practices. The Canton Police Department employs directives and oversight on all use of force applications. These mechanisms of administration include exhaustive training and review. The agency has zero-tolerance for the misuse of force, and officers are subject to discharge and discipline for any abuse of power. Canton works pro-actively to maintain a benchmark worthy team of officers through training, legal briefings as well as professional internal and external mentorship,” Williams said.
 “Additionally, the department actively trains police officers on implicit bias. Specifically, the cultural diversity and cultural competency training has not only helped our officers understand the implicit bias, but has helped the Canton Police Department become one of the most progressive policing agencies in the region. The department has a zero-tolerance for bias-based profiling and enforcement programs. They are violations of the constitutional rights of those we serve, undermine the department's legitimate efforts, and lead to a loss of trust within our community. The department is trained to focus on a person's conduct or other specific suspect information”
Williams' remarks were echoed in a statement from Deputy Director of Police Chad Baugh. 
“The Canton Police Department stands against injustice and works every day to serve our community. Like many, we are sickened by the actions and inactions of the police officers in the death of George Floyd. Those officers tarnished our policing service. We have been working for over 20 years toward developing a workforce with the mindset and skills to build a foundation of public trust and service, with a genuine commitment to our racially, economically, politically, socially, and religiously diverse community,” Baugh said in a prepared statement.
“The Canton Police Department maintains various partnerships within our community and region. One of which is our Canton Coalition for Inclusive Communities team, which is a partnership of a diverse group of community and regional leaders. Further, our Community Engagement Team has been very active with the Advocates and Leaders for Police and Community Trust, whose mission is to examine issues affecting police and community relations, and the discriminatory enforcement of laws, such as racial profiling, police discretion, use of force, recruitment and training, citizen complaint processes, community partnering, police leadership and management, and disciplinary practices designed to enhance the bonds of trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve.
“As part of our police department's goal of becoming a more diverse police agency, as well as being a component of the national accreditation process, the department has developed a recruiting plan that includes hiring police officers who reflect our community's demographic makeup. The recruiting team is a dedicated group of 10 police officers trained to recruit police employees, with a concentration on engaging minorities to work as Canton police officers. The recruiting process includes a coordinated effort with the Canton Human Resource Department. The Canton Police Department has made great strides with hiring and retaining minority police officers .
 “I have been a Canton resident for over 30 years, and, as a long-time resident, husband, father, neighbor, friend, and now as supervisor, I truly believe that the Canton Police Department is the finest department around. The men and women of the Canton Police Department support all residents and visitors in our community, they stand for justice, and continue to find solutions to maintain public support in that service,” Williams concluded.
The Canton Police Department stands for justice and continues to find solutions to maintain public support in service to our citizens and, most importantly, to be impartial to ensure our citizens feel safe and can thrive. Our mutual trust with the citizens of our community is the cornerstone to our success. As always, we are here to serve the Canton community, support all of our residents and visitors, and protect life,” Baugh's statement concluded.