It was held following demonstrations following the death of George Floyd.
Frederick, Md (KM). Use of force by Frederick Police officers against African-Americans was a topic addressed on Wednesday during a three-hour-long Mayor and Board of Aldermen workshop.
Alderman Ben MacShane noticed that African-Americans make up 18% of the population in Frederick, but 45% of whom where police had to use force. “There is some cause underneath the fact that use of force occurs against African-American at three times their rate of the population of the city,” he said.
Captain Joe Hayer with the Frederick Police say officers last year responded to 104,000 calls for service, with 5,298 resulting in arrests. He also said there only 161 instances where force had to be used. “The force is less than a quarter percent of the time. So if the makeup of the African-American population in the city is 20,000 to 25,000 people, force is used on only 161 of the residents in last year’s numbers.”
The workshop follows demonstrations in Frederick and the rest of the country. Participants were protesting following the death of George Floyd, an African-American, at the hand of a white police officer in Minneapolis.
During the workshop, Frederick Police officials explained the department’s use of force policies, including when officers can use their firearms. They said chokeholds, dragging an individual and binding their feet is prohibited. And officers who noticed a fellow officer using excessive force have a duty to intervene.
But Frederick Police say training is provided for officers in the academy to deal with systemic racism and bias. “There are several hours on hate crimes, and investigation of hate crimes. Several hours on community policing, bias-based policing, derogatory practices. They have a completely separate course on race-based traffic stops. They have a three-hour class on cultural diversity and civil rights,” says Lieutenant Kevin Myers.
He also says training in many of these topics is required even after they become sworn officers.
What the Minneapolis police officer did to George Floyd would not be tolerated by the Frederick Police, says Lieutenant Myers. “It is strictly prohibited in general orders and our training that we put any pressure on the spine or the airway or anything like that,” he says.
A number of demonstrators are part of the Black Lives Matter movement, and some have called for defunding the police. Captain Hayer spoke to that. “Our folks are feeling the impact of the ‘F*** the Police,’ the ‘Defund the Police,’ the stuff like that. I’m not asking you to feel bad for us. But that weighs heavily on officer wellness in terms of mental health,” he says.
Public comment was taken during the meeting. Brian Williams called in and asked this question of Acting Police Chief Patrick Grossman. “Are you willing to say ‘Black Lives Matter’ without adding anything else to it? Are willing to say ‘Black Lives Matter’ right now in front of the people,”
“Of course, Black Lives Matter,” Acting Chief Grossman responded.
By Kevin McManus