New Ad Hoc Group Plans to Bring Racial Justice to Policing

The Eugene Police Commission is doing some things differently in response to the ongoing protests against racist police brutality that has put more eyes on the work the commission does. 

First of all, the commissioners met in August, which is usually their month off. At the commission’s Aug. 27 meeting, commissioners also welcomed four new members to the group, all of whom identify as people of color.

The commission said this fulfills a community desire to increase diversity in response to calls for racial justice and equitable representation in decision-making bodies across the country. 

Discussion of the Eugene City Council’s new police policy ad hoc committee dominated the meeting, and the commission voted to nominate two people to represent the group in a committee that will focus on addressing implicit racism in the Eugene Police Department. 

In late June, the Eugene City Council approved the city’s fiscal year 21 budget without moving to reallocate any of the Eugene Police Department’s money, despite calls from community activists asking to move EPD funds to other organizations such as CAHOOTS.

In response to the dozens of speakers’ demands that the City Council defund EPD, Councilors Greg Evans and Jennifer Yeh proposed the Police Policy Ad Hoc Committee to try to reach out to underrepresented groups and get their input on future EPD policy and budget decisions. 

Yeh, who was present at the Aug. 27 meeting, serves as one of the council’s liaisons to the police commission.

Most members of the council, including Mayor Lucy Vinis, were on board with the idea of the new ad hoc committee.

Councilors Betty Taylor Mike Clark both asked for EPD’s input on any proposed ad hoc committee at the June 24 work session’s discussion of the committee. The right-leaning Clark mentioned that he thought any such group should represent a diversity of thought across the political spectrum, apparently referring to his more-conservative constituents in north Eugene who he felt had been underrepresented. 

However, Clark voted to move forward with this ad hoc committee at the council’s July 20 work session. Councilors voted 7-1 in favor of the police policy ad hoc committee at this work session, with Taylor as the dissenting opinion.

The police policy ad hoc committee, which will serve as an advisory group to the Eugene City Council, will include two representatives from a variety of local advocacy groups, including Black Unity, the NAACP and the Eugene Islamic Center, as well as the Police Commission and the Civilian Review Board. 

They plan to meet 10-12 times between September and January to create a report to present to the City Council recommending police policy changes in line with Campaign Zero’s policy solutions and President Barack Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing, and reviewing Community Safety Initiative funding. 

City Manager Sarah Medary will return to the City Council in September to provide more details on the timeline and members of the ad hoc committee. People who serve on the committee will be paid $15 an hour. 

The Police Commission appointed Silverio Mogart and Maisie Davis to serve as their representatives on this ad hoc committee at its Aug. 27 meeting. The committee will begin meeting next month. 

The Eugene Civilian Review Board, which serves to examine specific complaints against EPD officers, appointed Rick Roseta and  Lindsey Foltz on Aug. 18 to serve on the committee. Representatives from the other groups must be appointed by Sept. 1. 

The Police Commission also introduced newly appointed commissioners Dallas Boggs, Davis, Shawntel Robertson and Bonnie Dominguez. 

Police Commission Chair Sean Shivers said the commissioners took ethnic diversity into account when deciding whom to appoint to the commission among a historic number of applicants. 

Boggs, a Black man, said that he is able to provide an important perspective to the Police Commission and that he is eager to serve as a commissioner. “As a Black person living in Eugene, I know the temperature,” Boggs said. 

Robertson said she has a unique vantage point as a Black woman whose mother was an officer with EPD. 

Davis, who is also a member of Black Unity, said she will come to the Police Commission and the policy ad hoc committee from an intersectional perspective, as she identifies as a Black woman, a disabled person and a member of the LGBTQ community. 

“I feel that the intersectionalities that I have will be able to offer different views that haven’t been seen or heard,” Davis said.

Davis also has a master’s degree in social work and she said she has done work as a therapist. 

Dominguez said that she was interested in being a police officer or an FBI agent when she was younger, but now works as an architect. 

At the end of the meeting, Mogart mentioned the current strike that many athletic teams from the NBA and MLB across the country are on to take a stand against the latest police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin. 

Blake, a Black man, was shot seven times by the police on Aug. 23 and suffered serious injuries. The shooting has reverberated throughout the country, reigniting ongoing protests against racist police violence.

“We’ve had enough of this take place,” Mogart said. “It’s time for this to stop, and I’m looking forward to Eugene being the city to lead the nation in ending this kind of brutality.”

Davis echoed Mogart’s comments, saying, “My people are dying, we have to do better.”