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Cops seek input on citizens’ committee

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By LPR Staff

Editor/POST-REGISTER

 

Michael Brown. Eric Garner. Freddie Gray.

Distrust goes out of control. Streets are on fire. Friends stop talking, and turn to hate and violence.

“It could never happen here.”

When distrust exists between the citizens and the police, it can happen anywhere.

Lockhart Police Chief Mike Lummus app

roached the City Council on Tuesday evening, asking their support behind a groundbreaking initiative that would open the lines of communication between the police department and the community. His solution? To establish a line of communication between the streets and the Force, to establish trust and camaraderie before wounds have the chance to fester.

Springboarding from an idea introduced by the City of Bastrop Police Department earlier this year, Lummus received unanimous support from the council for his idea, which will establish a committee, not for oversight, but to allow those individuals who may have questions or concerns to approach the police department in a safe and conversational manner.

“I don’t want people to think that this is an oversight committee, where they can pass judgment or discipline,” Lummus said. “It’s a matter of communication, and sometimes the things that they can’t communicate or don’t understand.”

Specifically, he said, he has heard concerns from the community who believe that the police are not doing enough, or releasing enough information about a particular situation, when in truth the release of that information could jeopardize an investigation.

“We’ve done well at our community meetings,” Lummus said. “But I think that having people on this committee, someone that the people in the neighborhood know and can come to with their concerns, will give a seat at the table to those people who can’t make the community meetings, or who aren’t comfortable expressing their thoughts in that format.”

Mayor Lew White expressed concern over the structure of the committee, and worried that some in the community might be uncomfortable if their neighbors, for example, had access to dashboard recordings of incidents they might be involved in.

“I’m leery that [the committee] could see the tapes, because I can’t see how they can do the job without having access to that information.”

Lummus said those details were still in the planning phases, and reiterated that he wanted he support of the council moving forward.

“I don’t want anyone to think that this is a mandate and something we’re being forced to do,” he said. “I want to make sure the people know that this is our idea, that we want that conversation and we want that feedback.”

Moving forward, Lummus said he would entertain suggestions from the council as to the committee’s membership, but said he wanted to steer away from any council appointments or mandates.

“Sometimes, people that have been critical can turn around if they are given the chance to be a part of the solution,” he said. “I’m not afraid of having people on this committee who have been critical of us in the past.”

For additional information, contact your councilmember, or call the Lockhart Police Department non-emergency number at (512) 398-4401.

In other business, the Council canvassed the vote from the May 9, 2015, and officially swore in At Large Councilmember Brad Westmoreland.

Westmoreland received his oath of office from Judge Fred A. Moore, and took his place at the table, just in time to adjourn the meeting and enjoy a reception hosted by city staff in his honor.

The Lockhart City Council routinely meets on the first and third Tuesday of each month at 7:30 p.m. in the Third Floor Council Chambers at the Dr. Eugene Clark Library Complex. The meetings are open to the public, and are also televised on Time Warner Digital Cable Channel 10. As of this week, the meetings are also available online at http://www.lockhart-tx.org/web98/citygovernment/viewmeetingsvid.asp.


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