Pete's Prep: Wednesday, May 23, 2018

posted by Pete Kaliner - 

Major policing changes in Asheville rammed through in late-night vote

Cops in Asheville have new limits on how they do the job, after the City Council rushed to adopt the new restrictions after blocking public input last night.

The agenda listed this as a presentation - not a vote.

You can see the presentation here: LINK.

It was made by the leftist Southern Coalition for Justice, which led its powerpoint with this:

"In April 2017, the Asheville-Buncombe Co. NAACP, citing concerns about growing racial disparities in traffic stops and searches, asked the Asheville City Council to work with the Asheville Police Department to implement two "no cost" policy changes: (1) formal deprioritization or prohibition of traffic stops for low-level regulatory and equipment violations, and (2) a requriement of written authorization for consent-based searches."

They say blacks make up 12% of the city population, but make up 20% of the traffic stops. Whites make up 78% of the stops, and that's in-line with the population, the presentation says.

Under the set of measures approved last night, Asheville Police will no longer be allowed to pull people over based on minor traffic offenses - like a broken tail light or headlight.

Southern Coalition for Social Justice presentation

Police will also need to get written consent for searches during traffic stops. This was adopted in Fayetteville, and law enforcement groups fought it. This piece of information was not part of the presentation from the special interest activist group, and Council seemed surprised to learn about it, at the end of the meeting.

After the vote.

There was no staff review of the data. There was no examination of the proposal by experts. It was simply a rubber stamp of the recommendations from the Southern Coalition for Social Justice.

Indeed, the Council and the Mayor rushed to adopt the new rules without public input, as Councilman Keith Young "called the question" - which is a parliamentary rule that shuts off debate and forces a vote.

Councilman Vijay Kapoor called the process an embarrassment and apologized to the citizens of Asheville.

Mayor Esther Manheimer said she had no choice but to call for the vote.

But this really isn't true.

The agenda item was not listed as a vote. It's listed under "Presentations and Reports." 

If Council is going to vote on major changes to policing strategies, it should have been listed as such on the agenda. The Mayor should have entertained a motion to put a vote on the next agenda. Or send it to committee for study.

Allowing the vote was inappropriate.

Even so, once she allowed the motion to be made, it should have been open to public comment.

"Calling the question" should not be operable until each council member has had at least one chance to weigh in. And no new policy like this should be adopted without staff review and public input.


Here's how it looked as Mountain Xpress' Daniel Walton live-tweeted it last night...

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