Public invited to ask questions on Montague police review next week

Staff Writer
Published: 5/11/2021 6:22:48 PM

MONTAGUE — After beginning to discuss a recent review of the Montague Police Department this week and last week, the Selectboard is incorporating a public forum on the results as the main agenda item for its May 17 meeting.

The review of the Police Department began late last summer, prompted by national discussion and concern following the highly publicized murder of George Floyd by a police officer in Minneapolis. The review was conducted by two committees — one on the department’s relationships and reputation within the community, and the other on policies and practices regarding use of force.

Speaking Monday, the Selectboard and the facilitators of the two committees said the Police Department was fully cooperative with the study, and the findings revealed no systemic discrimination or abuses.

If anything, the committee facilitators said, the department is somewhat underfunded relative to the amount of outreach work that it envisions and that the larger community likely expects.

“Level-funding the Police Department didn’t do what some people wanted it to do, and in fact maybe hurt us,” said Chris Pinardi, the facilitator of the committee on police-community engagement.

Montague voters, during the Annual Town Meeting last summer, voted narrowly to level-fund the Police Department, cutting an increase that was designed to cover contractually required pay raises for union workers.

Pinardi and Ariel Elan, the facilitator of the committee on use of force, spoke briefly with the Selectboard to give a high-level overview of the project’s process and findings. But, at the urging of Selectboard Chair Rich Kuklewicz, that conversation did not include discussion on specific findings, recommendations or issues.

The May 17 meeting will be a deeper discussion on the committees’ work, and an opportunity for the public to ask questions, he said.

Selectboard meetings, which start at 6:30 p.m., are held virtually via Zoom. Information on joining the May 17 call will be available later this week when the meeting agenda is posted on the town’s website, montague-ma.gov.

Basically, the review process included a series of interviews with Police Chief Christopher Williams and Police Lt. Christopher Bonnett, and a community survey that drew about 450 responses, Elan and Pinardi said.

The final report includes a set of recommendations on developing the Police Department, but these also were not discussed in any detail with the Selectboard.

Elan and Pinardi only suggested that the report would likely be a starting point for further discussion regarding the Police Department, if the larger community has the interest and desire to pursue it.

“Every answer, for weeks and weeks, did lead to more questions. ... People really dug deep,” Elan said. “It’s up to the community to interrogate all of this further.”

Reach Max Marcus at mmarcus@recorder.com or 413-930-4231.


Jobs



Support Local Journalism

Subscribe to the Greenfield Recorder, keeping Franklin County informed since 1792.


Greenfield Recorder

14 Hope Street
Greenfield, MA 01302-1367
Phone: (413) 772-0261
Fax: (413) 772-2906

 

Copyright © 2021 by Newspapers of Massachusetts, Inc.
Terms & Conditions - Privacy Policy