CORAL SPRINGS, FL – For more than a month, a task force of Coral Springs police administrators, city officials, and community leaders met behind closed doors to look at ways to improve policing in the city as well as go over what officers are doing well.
Following weeks of local and national protests over police conduct, the discussions led to a conclusion summarized by a memo the police department put together and made available to TAPinto Coral Springs as a public records information request.
“While it was primarily agreed upon that the Coral Springs Police Department is a highly trained and professional organization that genuinely cares for the community they serve, the group collectively agreed there is always room for improvement, clarification and better transparency,” the letter said.
Members of the group -- including Coral Springs Police Chief Clyde Parry, City Commissioner Joshua Simmons, and City Commission candidate Nancy Metayer -- came up with a long list of recommendations intended to strengthen the department’s policies and procedures and offer ideas for new programs and initiatives.
Among the recommendations – or “action items” as they are called – include reviewing controversial tactics such as chokeholds and neck restraints, expanding the use of police body cameras in schools, and examining the department’s mental health training and capabilities in the field. (See the specific recommendations below).
During a recent City Commission meeting, Parry said the discussions offered different perspectives from people across the community and in different occupational fields. He said the meetings will continue as police and city officials work on the recommendations.
“Everyone who attended got something out of it and I know we all look forward to continuing the discussions,” Parry said.
Simmons -- who helped push for the creation of the task force -- said the group’s work isn’t intended to focus on the latest police issues trending on social media.
“This isn’t just a knee-jerk reaction,” he said. “It isn’t just a ‘we’re just going to respond to the moment.’ We’re doing this to set us up for the future and to be better.”
Metayer said the conversations “are a useful starting point for building more transparency” between the community and the police department, but “there is always room for more improvement.”
She said she wants the city to add a civilian investigative panel that would serve “the police and the public by providing fair assessments of concerns over sworn police officers.”
In addition, Metayer said the department should add on a program such as CAHOOTS (Crisis Assistance Helping Out On The Streets), which is based in Eugene, Ore.
As part of the program there, a team of crisis workers responds to many 911 calls related to mental health, homelessness, substance abuse, and threats of suicide – often without the assistance of police officers. Read our story on CAHOOTS here.
The recommendations in the memo included:
- Make police department policies more easily available to the public.
- Update policy to expressly prohibit chokeholds or neck restraints (except as a last resort to protect prevent death or serious injury to innocent persons).
- Add language explaining "No Knock Warrant," the process and authority for obtaining and using them.
- Ensure state statute language is added to the appropriate policies.
- Review the current department policies related to body cameras that include looking at items such as officer's history of using the camera, is the supervisor reviewing camera use, what happens if the officer does not use the camera appropriately.
- Procure body cams for school resource officers (the goal is before the start of the school year).
- Continue to seek out and incorporate the latest training techniques, procedures, and policies, and ensure they are incorporated into officer training.
- Develop a comprehensive marketing plan.
- Look at expanding the citizens' police academy.
- Review and enhance the CSPD QA/QI (Quality Assurance/Quality Insurance) processes for the organization.
- Continue to seek ways to make their organization a part of the community and strive to have a better understanding of the community.
- Examine the current level of training associated with mental health for the officers and how to properly deal with the public in mental illness-related situations.
- Examine the duty to intervene in policy.
- Examine the policies related to rendering first aid.
Know a story we should share with our readers? Email editor Leon Fooksman (email@example.com) and tell him about it.