Huntsville City Council approves two major issues

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – After the demonstration, the Council took up two major issues – the Huntsville Police Citizens Advisory Council (HPCAC) and a resolution addressing police body camera footage.

Councilmembers have been working to make changes to the way the Huntsville Police Citizens Advisory Council operates for nearly a year.

The proposed changes add additional members to the council and getting rid of the chief of police’s ability to appoint a member. The changes also require the council to meet more frequently, have additional training and be elected in 4-year terms.

The additional training would include requirements and time commitments related to police ride-alongs, crisis intervention training courses, and a citizens police academy to better understand the inner workings of law enforcement.

Councilmember Francis Akridge called future members a high-profile group of subject matter experts.

Critics have said that while the HPCAC is good in theory, it lacks the ability to force the city to make any needed changes.

Akridge said it’s up to individuals to make the complaints and the Council to study and follow any trends with this added support.

“They did the best they could, but they had no tools to do that. They didn’t have administrative assistance, they didn’t have a communications department to get that word out, but this will give them the ability with money and people working with them to reach out to the community and have productive listening sessions,” Akridge said.

The other big topic brought up a few weeks ago, access to body camera video. A resolution critics said may not be going far enough but passed nonetheless.

The goal tonight was to nail down a definitive process for individuals involved in altercations with police to get access to their body camera footage from Huntsville Police without issue.

Councilmember John Meredith was backed by fellow councilmembers Bill Kling and Devyn Keith in what they call the first step towards transparency.

Councilman Kling told News 19 increased access has to come in small steps, this being the first.

“The city council is kind of throwing its weight behind the process, saying we want something well defined. We’ve heard from members of the public, and as a former newsman, I like that we can do things out in the open with full disclosure. and this is kind of taking things a step further,” Kling said.

Currently, there is no set plan when it comes to releasing body camera footage. City Administrator John Hamilton said internal investigations give some citizens access, but there is not a procedure to this scale.

A similar resolution was set for last month’s docket but was ultimately delayed to finalize language with the city attorney.

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