Councilmember asks for written plan of action concerning Huntsville Police Department changes

Huntsville

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – Huntsville City Councilmember Frances Akridge is asking the City Administrator to present a written action plan from the Huntsville Police Citizens Advisory Council report to the Council in a public forum.

A year ago, demonstrators and Huntsville Police clashed in what was the first of multiple protests against police brutality. On June 1, 2020 and June 3, 2020 police dispersed the crowd using riot control methods. That use of force sparked a community conversation about police reform and the Huntsville Police Department.

We now know the city spent $655,893 for the ‘Huntsville Police Citizens Advisory Council’ report by the Birmingham law firm of ‘Lightfoot, Franklin, and White.’

The Huntsville Police Citizens Advisory Council report took a broad look at the Huntsville Police Department’s Response to the June 2020 protests and found significant room for improvement.

In late April, City Administrator John Hamilton presented Huntsville’s response to the report. Now council members are asking for a written action plan and lessons learned to be presented to council in a public forum.

“It’s been said on April 28th that this is the start, what I’ve done now is ask for it to be in writing,” says councilwoman Frances Akridge.

City Councilmembers Frances Akridge and Bill Kling are asking for an action plan spelling out the response to recommendations of the police department by the HPCAC.

Akridge asked that it include:

  1. A brief response to every recommendation made by the HPCAC
  2. Dates for completion of reviews or actions
  3. Dates for releasing results of the reviews
  4. Reiterate why the administration did not compel officers to participate in the interviews as instructed by the resolution. Doing so would have put individual officers in a better light.
  5. A commitment to report on regular intervals to council
  6. How might the administration have kept the focus on police/community solidarity against brutality on June 1st in keeping with Chief McMurray’s statement in the June 1 press release?

“This action plan should give legs to this [HPCAC report] okay, there is a lot of recommendations in there,” says Akridge.

Akridge says council is not the body that can introduce “policy changes” or what is also known as directives. That is the job of the police chief, mayor and city administrator.

“Changing directives is something police experts do. Changing policy is something that they do. Your city council is limited to creating ordinances,” explains Akridge.

She hopes the Action Plan in writing will be the needed step to see change.

“Some people say it just boils down to better communication, well how? How are they going to communicate better?,” says Akridge.

Akridge asked for the delivery date of the product to be set by Friday June 4, 2021. She says council will go over it publicly in either a work session or council meeting.

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