City councilman releases police reform proposal ahead of council work session

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – Huntsville city councilman Bill Kling released a list of recommendations for local police reform Tuesday.

Kling said in the report he believes “the city can make improvements within the police department to better serve the public, similar to the improvements that have been made in other city departments.”

Kling’s report lays out four areas where improvement is needed:

  • Emphasis on mental health services and training
  • Community outreach
  • Rebuilding community trust
  • Aggressive use of the internet to improve transparency

But as it pertains specifically to the events of last June 1 and 3, the protests against police brutality in downtown Huntsville, Kling’s report said chemical agents like tear gas should be restricted to the most extreme of circumstances.

The proposal uses the U.S. Capitol attack as an example of an extreme circumstance. It recommends the arrest of citizens who refuse to disperse after warnings instead of unleashing the chemical agent.

Permit details for the June 3 NAACP protest were murky according to the organization, and the Huntsville Police Citizens Advisory Council report released on April 22.

The HPCAC’s report suggested better communication as it related to time and location changes could’ve prevented issues that night.

Kling’s report recommends guidelines for future protests and parades be posted online so that the public can understand their rights and responsibilities ahead of an event. He also suggests including instructions such as a requirement to stay on the sidewalk, the length of a permit, and dispersal times to alleviate confusion.

Additionally, the proposal also calls for changes to the composition of the citizens advisory council.

Kling’s document suggests all appointees be made by the mayor and city council members only, excluding Huntsville Police Chief Mark McMurray. However, it says an officer would serve as a “non-voting” liaison between the council and police department. It also calls for more diversity on the council.

The contents of the document are set to be presented during Wednesday’s council work session.

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