Greenwich coach hopes Citizen Police Advisory Board members receive training on unconscious bias

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GREENWICH – As the new Citizen’s Advisory Committee on Policing takes shape, a new board member wants members to receive specialized training in recognizing unconscious bias.

Selectwoman Janet Stone McGuigan, who began her first term on the board earlier this month, said she hopes all committee members take the unconscious bias training in addition to going through the Citizens Police Academy.

“We need to be clear on what training this will require,” Stone McGuigan said at Thursday’s board meeting.

Committee members, who will be volunteers, should also receive recommended one-page orientation and training from the National Association for Civilian Law Enforcement Oversight, she said. It wouldn’t be a specific training, but rather a one-page overview of training topics that she said “should ideally be covered,” along with a list of resources.

The Citizen Policing Advisory Committee will provide residents with oversight of the internal affairs of the police department and citizen complaint processes after allegations of police misconduct. Committee members have yet to be appointed, but the board is interviewing candidates to fill vacancies in the new year.

Stone McGuigan was not yet a member of the Board of Selectmen when he unanimously approved the formation of the Citizens Police Advisory Committee in October.

After Thursday’s meeting, First Selectman Fred Camillo said he still did not agree with the mandatory unconscious bias training for volunteer community members. But Camillo said he wanted to take a closer look at the proposal.

During the meeting, Camillo said McGuigan’s point was “well taken” about unconscious bias training. He said he and Selectwoman Lauren Rabin have been researching the training over the past year, which city employees will take.

But the training is “very expensive,” Camillo said, and it was not something that could currently be offered to volunteers, such as committee members.

He suggested contacting other organizations such as the Anti-Defamation League for similar training. Camillo said he would discuss it with Stone McGuigan as well.

“I think it’s a really good idea,” Camillo said. “Most of our volunteers, if not all, are great, but you never know and you always want to be careful. It’s something we should all be looking at, and I think we’re all on the same page there. “

After Thursday’s meeting, Stone McGuigan said she hoped Camillo would agree to include the unconscious bias training.

“It’s a bit difficult here because the city training is not ready to go, and I did not want to propose a change in the policy to require training that has not been approved,” a- she declared.

“But now the board has had a public discussion, and for now I am confident that committee members will be provided with appropriate training. I just wanted to make this point of view known before the members are appointed so that the expectations are clear, ”she said.

Training possibilities

The city has not finalized the format of the unconscious bias training that city employees will take in 2022. Because of this, Stone McGuigan said she realizes she might be “a little bit cool.” get ahead of me “, but said she wanted to express her point of view. Then, when the training is available to the city, committee members could be invited to take it, she said.

The Citizen’s Advisory Committee on Policing will be made up of 10 members who will serve three-year terms.

Under the current structure, city residents over the age of 17 can be committee members. They must also be graduates of the Citizens Police Academy of the Greenwich Police Department, which is held at least twice a year. The academy teaches the inhabitants of the city the duties of the police in courses and specialized training; the program also includes firearms training and a walk with officers.

The Advisory Board is designed to “help improve the transparency and public accountability” of the Greenwich Police Service through the review of monthly performance reports, citizen complaints and internal affairs investigations.

At Thursday’s meeting, Stone McGuigan expressed hope that the composition of the committee “would reflect the demographics of the Greenwich community.”

“In particular, we need to make sure that there is representation from our community who may have a difficult relationship with law enforcement,” she said. “I think it could be people under 30. “

Stone McGuigan said if there is anyone in this age group or knows someone who was in this age group who would be interested in being on the committee, they should reach out and come up with their name. for exam.

Anyone in that age range or anyone who knows someone in that age range who wants to serve on the Citizens’ Police Advisory Committee should contact and submit their name, Stone McGuigan said.

“I know there will be no difficulty in finding candidates who appreciate our police service,” she said. “Greenwich is really lucky to have the department that we have. “

Camillo said he expected the committee’s make-up to be “quite diverse,” but said it might be difficult to involve people under the age of 30.

He said the city would “keep an eye on” applicants in this age group wishing to join the Citizen Police Advisory Committee.

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