An Interview with William Rowel about Annapolis’s proposed Civilian Review Board

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William:

This is William.

Andrew:

Hey, William. How are you? It’s Andrew from The Patriot.

William:

Oh, how are you? Oh, Andrew, that’s right.

Andrew:

Yeah, yeah. How’s it going?

William:

I am so crazily on the grind that I really … That’s so funny. Good morning.

Andrew:

Yeah. How are you? Hope I’m not taking too much of your time then.

William:

No, no, no, no. You’re good. You’re good. You’re good. I was just vocalizing my morning, the list of things. But all right, so, what’s going on?

Andrew:

Not much. I was calling to talk about the Citizens Review Board that Mayor Buckley started to talk about the other week.

William:

Right, right. Okay.

Andrew:

I’m just curious where that idea comes from, what your role is in it, and what the goals are.

William:

Okay. I guess the first part is we have a kind of working title, what we’re calling it. [crosstalk 00:01:06]

Andrew:

So does … Go on.

William:

It’s Civilian Review Board. Oh, sorry. Hold on for one second. [inaudible 00:01:12]

Andrew:

Yeah.

William:

Okay, sorry. We are using the term Civilian Review Board as opposed to Citizens Review Board. So it’s semantics, but a lot of times people interchange citizens and it’s a little different because citizens has different connotations, so we call it Civilian. So the genesis of the conversation about the need for the Civilian Review Board obviously comes from the fact that we want a closer relationship between the residents who are served by our police department, right?

Andrew:

Yeah.

William:

And we also most importantly are using it as a strategy to further increase accountability and transparency. So the two most important things for that are accountability and transparency from our police department. The need for that is becoming more apparent every day because we’re trying to move away from the police essentially policing themselves.

William:

In the city of Annapolis, we have these unique opportunities to further evolve our ability to police all communities equitably, so one of the first steps that we took a couple years ago was to have our police officers wear body cameras. The thing about body cameras is it allows another set of eyes for interactions with people who are interaction with police officers. The interesting thing about body cams is the reason why they were initiated and why it was something that was proven to be a useful tool is because it is both a tool for people who are encountering police officers, but it’s also a tool for police officers to allow them to, in cases where there’s perceived wrongdoing, it allows us to have another set of eyes for that, and in a lot of cases, they are exonerated, right?

Andrew:

Yes.

William:

And of course, that’s an aspect of transparency as well. So the evolution of that, of course, is to allow those people who are being policed and who do pay into the system as residents of this city, it also allows them to have a greater reach to be able to understand what some of the challenges are of people who have negative encounters with police officers.

William:

So nationally, we have issues involving use of force things and police brutality, as well as, unfortunately, some fatalities where police officers have acted beyond their directives. And not all of those cases are transparent, and nor are they by the general public perceived as equitable in their actions and then the reaction by the system to correct that behavior, right?

Andrew:

Yeah.

William:

So in Annapolis, what we have repeatedly heard from residents who live here, as well as those that have been impacted by police brutality and other things, is that they would like another way to increase transparency and accountability. So a Civilian Review Board, in its broad structure, is seen in other cities as being a model to help do that.

William:

So where we are right now is I’ve done a lot of work for years working on police reform. One part of that is increasing awareness. The other part is doing a Know Your Rights trainer with the ACLU, which we do. I have taken the time all over Maryland, from Frederick all the way down to Salisbury to … obviously Baltimore, all over Baltimore, as well as in Silver Spring in Montgomery County … to work with people who can teach them about their constitutional rights but also their rights about police encounters. And I do want to add that none of this is against police departments. It is not against the profession. This is the part I like to make very clear, because I think there tends to be some confusion around if this is punitive, if this is an attack on law enforcement, and it isn’t in any way. In any way. It is, in actuality, a way for us to fine tune a system that needs fine tuning.

William:

So the Know Your Rights training, as a continuation of that, is working with monolingual Spanish-speaking populations, as well as non people of color, all different communities, African Americans, walking them through what it means to … Unfortunately, we have to have conversations about staying safe, and unfortunately, we have to have conversations about how to not get shot or unfairly detained, search and seizure, all those types of things, right?

Andrew:

Yeah.

William:

And so the Civilian Review Board allows us to … Very specifically, it allows us to get people to not only understand how that process works in terms of the review of complaints in terms of understanding not only the job that police officers have to do, but also the job that we have to do as citizens to learn about that so that our interactions with police officers are fair and they don’t result in us being harmed and injured. But most importantly, it gives us kind of an opportunity to review those complaints that enter the police department that sometimes do not enter the public sphere, so we have no idea what issues exist and the kind of recourse that residents have when a complaint is filed.

William:

Essentially, how civilian review boards work is they have representation from affinity groups, so it would be like NAACP, members of the Hispanic community and representations from them, who would sit on that board and be representative for a larger body that represents the population that they serve. And that way we’re able to get a balance of perspective. We also really want to have constant experts and people who understand, obviously, the law, understand constitutional rights, and also understand how that system works. So I know I said a lot [inaudible 00:11:18]

Andrew:

Yeah. That’s just fine. Yeah, it kind of [inaudible 00:11:22] off for me, too. What kind of authority does something like that have? In other areas where those things have happened, what are the effects and how are the concrete ways it creates transparency versus someone just being able to look up … You can look up the complaints on the website now or whatever, so what are the measurable ways its affected other areas?

William:

Well, one of the goals is to provide for where we are right now. Those are all very good questions. Where we are is establishing an advisory working group, or what some people call a task force. We’re not calling it a task force because sometimes a task force has … There’s preconceived misconceptions about what task forces do.

Andrew:

Yeah, it sounds militant almost.

William:

Yeah, yeah, and it also sounds like a group of people that get together and then nothing comes out of it. I mean that-

Andrew:

Oh, okay. Yeah.

William:

To me, that’s how. So words are really important to me, because they help us define the utility of a specific action, right?

Andrew:

Yeah.

William:

So if I say, “I’m just going to do some work,” you have no idea what I mean by that. But if I say, “I’m going to unload a truck and then,” you know what I mean, “and walk up these stairs and put this,” then you have a clear understanding of the task at hand.

William:

I want to answer your question about authority. There’s a concept … First of all, there are many, many civilian review boards around the country, some of which that have been in existence since the 80s. Not a lot of people know that because a lot of people think that it’s some big huge thing that we’re taking as an affront to the current issues of black men and women being killed. But in actuality, the truth of the matter is, this is something that existed for decades.

Andrew:

Of course.

William:

And in very successful models, right?

Andrew:

Yeah.

William:

Like all things, some things work better than others, but to your question about authority, the X factor is authority. It’s what level of authority, what level of independence, and what level of resources are available. So those are the factors that dictate the question that you’re asking. In some cases, there’s investigative powers, which formally exist only in Internal Affairs or in the police department. Right now, the police department, as I said, they investigate what happens in the police department and what the police do.

Andrew:

So, just a quick side check. Are those appointed police officers, or are they lawyers, or …

William:

Oh, in the police department?

Andrew:

In Internal Affairs, yeah.

William:

Yeah. My understanding is that they have their own auditors and investigators, and most of them are police officers, like [crosstalk 00:14:48]

Andrew:

So sworn in?

William:

Yeah. Or they’re former police officers at a department they bring in specifically for Internal Affairs. So if you look at it as like the detective-type work, you know?

Andrew:

Yeah.

William:

In some cases, there’s unfettered access in terms of civilian review boards. So there’s some models where they have subpoena power, and subpoena power allows them to access internal documents to look at evidence and to interview witnesses, and that’s [inaudible 00:15:24]. I mean, that’s extreme. There’s very few models that have all of that. Some have the opportunity to have direct access to APD files, right?

Andrew:

Yep.

William:

Well, I say APD, but police department files.

Andrew:

Yeah, I … yeah, yeah, yeah.

William:

Some have direct access to body cam footage. So you would think … I mean, think about this. You would think that if there’s … Let’s say we’ve had instances in Eastport or in the Newtowne Twenty area, or Robinwood where there’s a shooting. Now, the idea that residents or people who are sworn in to be a part of this body would be able to also look at this body cam footage, and they could come up with their own … Now remember, it’s a cross-section, it’s a diverse population of people who would sit on this board, they would have an opportunity to look at it. And again, they may not have the authority to do anything about it, but that’s the transparency part, right? Because if nothing is wrong, then they would be able to look at it and be like, “Okay, well, we have an understanding that this particular thing happened. It looks like our police officers operated the right way,” and now we can go back to our spaces and educate people about ways they can prevent things like that from happening as well as programs.

William:

And the other powerful thing about a civilian review board is that they have the ability to look at systemic issues, so system-related issues as it relates to policing. They also can have the opportunity to embed the community’s support into the work that they’re being done, and by proxy, our police department. And as I said, they also have an opportunity to increase transparency.

William:

The other thing … So to go to the independent part. One of the most important things … and it has been … It is a little bit of a … it’s one of the challenges, is to remember that a civilian review board is an external, independent entity from the police department.

Andrew:

So-

William:

That hasn’t always been clear.

Andrew:

Yeah. So is the plan to have the review board report to the mayor, or to Chief Jackson, or is that yet to be decided? Who has the oversight and-

William:

The board would not report to Chief Jackson because that is the police department.

Andrew:

Yeah. I’ve just seen other review boards where that is the case, and that seems clearly to be an issue.

William:

Yeah. To answer your question, the advisory working group, they are … And I hope this is a good segue. Excuse me, because I literally have nonlinear communication.

Andrew:

Okay, yeah.

William:

That’s one of my problems or challenges.

Andrew:

No problem, yeah.

William:

Right. So remember that this advisory working group, they are going to determine and work through the details, similar to your question about where they would land, where the Civilian Review Board would land. Okay?

Andrew:

Yeah.

William:

And the reason why we do that, the reason why I’m going through the process of working through that, is because every single aspect of the planning, the framework, and all of that we want to model as being the very things that we’re expecting our various departments and everything else to do, meaning it’s going to be transparent, it’s going to be equitable, and it will rely on best practices, it will rely on research, it will rely on data. So yes, the mayor could make all these decisions, yes, I could make some of these decisions myself based on my knowledge of civilian review boards, and yes, the law office could, the police department could.

William:

But what we want to do is model what we are saying is important to us, which is civilians, residents, the amazing people of Annapolis, all the people who are experts in their various fields … What we want to do is set the table for them to develop and build something truly awesome that connects to where they are and what they want. The other thing is, I want to stress that as best we can … which we are … is this is not political.

Andrew:

Sure.

William:

I know everyone says that, but the fidelity of what I’m doing is that it should be sustainable and outlive whoever is in office, whatever opinion, whatever political party anyone falls in, so it must remain independent in a way that it’s not serving the purpose of whoever’s in a leadership position.

Andrew:

In office, yeah.

William:

Yeah. And the mayor fully and completely agrees with that and our policymakers at the city level are all committed to building something that is going to be best for the residents. And remember, we have people that are 10 years old now that this may impact when they’re 15 or when they’re 20, and so it wouldn’t serve the purpose if it lands somewhere and lives somewhere where it’s subjective to the politics of where that is. And that’s not a totally negative thing because that’s not to say anyone else who has an opinion or a scope of work, it’s negative, but it does mean that it influences the work that they’re doing, right?

Andrew:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

William:

And their direction. Number one, our mayor has appointed a new police chief. I don’t think we can use the word, “new,” anymore, but he’s a different police chief. And so our job is to be sure that our police team has all the resources and tools to do the best job they can do because it impacts all of us, right?

Andrew:

Of course, yeah.

William:

So the mayor creating something that runs counter to our police chief doing his best work and our sworn officers doing their best work isn’t even logical. It doesn’t make sense, right? So we’re trying to create something that makes all of these things work together in the best possible way, because even our city government is an ecosystem that relies on all different kinds of moving parts to hopefully work symbiotically.

William:

And then the last thing on this note is resources. We are in the beginning stages of this. This is not a rush process. The inclination always is to rush things, and I get it, but this is something that we want to get right. And I’ll say that I want to get it right. And the reason why is because oftentimes when we rush and we do things for other reasons, we miss the finer points and we miss the things that make it work optimally. So resources are important because it requires a bit of support in the way of very minimal staff, but staff … Because in order for it to act independently, of course it has to have dedicated staff persons to ensure that there is work being done, but also that it’s directed and administered. So that naturally requires a bit of a funding mechanism, so it has to have funding, a budget. One of the things that is paramount in civilian review boards is an opportunity to have investigators, right?

Andrew:

Yep.

William:

Because while there are citizens and members of the Civilian Review Board, it is not based on opinion or totally their personal experiences, but it’s based on someone who has investigated and is providing facts and data about a specific incident or a specific complaint. So, that’s kind of the nuts and bolts. I call it AIR. Well, I don’t call it, but it’s something that is out there. But it’s A-I-R, so authority, independence, and resources.

Andrew:

Yep. The Gazette called the ideas overdue in an op ed recently.

William:

I’m sorry. Who’s did?

Andrew:

The Capital Gazette.

William:

Oh, The Capital, yes. Sorry.

Andrew:

What are your thoughts about that? And then what has been preventing something like this and the body cams for Pittman in the past, and what’s the red tape now? What are you trying to fight? What are your detractors now?

William:

Well, I would like to believe that it’s not necessarily a fight. Though I do not disagree with it being long overdue … I don’t disagree with that, but I do think, again, sometimes things align and create an opportunity to fine tune systems. So the question for me, or the thing for me is, why not now? So I try not to look and say, “Well, we should have had it 20 years ago,” but I don’t think you and I should be having this conversation, the same conversation, five years from now, right?

Andrew:

Sure.

William:

I think creating an opportunity for these very meaningful steps forward are important, and I do think that now is the time. I do think it’s an opportunity for all of us to really take a look at how our systems are reflecting our priorities and our agreements. So our agreements as both residents and people who live in this city, and also our agreements as the people who serve the residents of this city. I think now is the time for us to really fine tune those systems.

William:

And really, the other part is bringing … Now is the political thing I’ll say is, we have … One of our key directives and priorities for the Buckley administration has been bringing our communities and our residents closer to our city government, whether it’s outreach … So this is an extension of our work. For me personally as a staff person, as a senior advisor in the mayor’s office and also community engagement person, it is an extension of that work because we’re engaging more with people who live here who all of this work is about. All of the work is about people who live here and about our communities, all communities. And so this is an extension of that because we are creating another model by which to be held accountable, and also, another model by which to bring our residents closer to the policymaking part, the city government part, the services part, and the resources. And it’s not easy.

Andrew:

Yeah. So what-

William:

It isn’t.

Andrew:

Yeah. What are the obstacles that you feel like you might be facing now or have kept the … Because I did read that the idea was shot down in City Council before, or at least had brought up and then didn’t go forward.

William:

Well-

Andrew:

I do think, but yeah.

William:

Well, I mean, one of the main obstacles with things like this is always going to be political will. But I will say that one of the reasons why I think we’re seeing traction now is because we have a mayor who has the political will because he views it as a priority and he sees the value in it.

William:

The other thing I want to make very clear that I’ve heard a couple times was that it’s a reaction to the passing of George Floyd, or the murder of George Floyd, and that’s not true. The truth of the matter is, we’ve been talking about this for years. I wrote and developed the policy in 2016, I think, for a series of recomme ndations. It was covered all over, but a series of recommendations for police reform, and we concluded body cam footage and civilian review board. We were under Pantelides at the time and I didn’t work in the mayor’s office then, so I was kind of on the other side. A lot has happened since then, and so one of the … I brought this up to say when everyone was running, there was a survey that I wrote and developed that … One of the questions was, “Do you support a civilian review board?” And of course, just about everyone said yes, right?

Andrew:

Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah.

William:

I mean, all the candidates said yes. So I knew that in order to see that through, we would have to continue to revisit that, because that’s how it works. And so the mayor from before he was even in office learned about and understood why civilian review boards can be a useful tool for accountability and transparency. He has the political will.

William:

And I will say that, yes, the obstacle is political will, but has been and continues to be the fact that we rely on our law enforcement and police departments to do a lot of work and they are put into positions that most of us wouldn’t want to be put in as regular people, and they do a job that sometimes is thankless. And so all of us landed in understanding that there are good cops, there are bad cops. I hear that a lot. But remember, we’re not talking about a cop or this cop or that cop, we’re talking about the system. We’re speaking about being able to change the culture in departments, again, so that they work better for the people that they serve. This isn’t about identifying and weeding out and demonizing police officers. It is about fine tuning the system so that it works best for the people that it serves. Did that make sense?

Andrew:

Yes, totally.

William:

Yeah. And that’s a huge point for me. That’s a huge point that I want to clarify for everyone, because that’s what’s going on in this country is that people are landing on different sides. They’re defending the police officers and law enforcement as if people are protesting individual cops, or that they’re saying the whole thing is bad. That is not what is happening. What is happening is a culmination of a lot of things that demonstrate we need to work to make this particular system the thing that it’s supposed to be. It’s not predatory, that there’s not deeply embedded bias, and that the system’s not set up to protect this one model at all costs against all others. We want to be sure that it works best for all involved.

Andrew:

Yeah. On the spectrum of reform, where is the Citizen Review Board? Is it a big win, or is it a small step? And then, how do you feel about the, “Defund the police,” movement, and then Minneapolis, of course, just abolishing their department?

William:

Right. Well, I mean, I will say … So in terms of steps, I think the Civilian Review Board … and remember, “civilian.”

Andrew:

Yeah, sorry, sorry. I have it written down right here as, “citizen,” but …

William:

Well, I’m going to tell you why. I don’t know if I made that clear, because, “citizen,” implies, again, that only people who are citizens are impacted by this or that only they have … The semantics is we’re talking about … It’s both talking about a civil relationship, right?

Andrew:

Yes.

William:

We’re also talking about civics. So remembering that it’s a working part of this governmental system. And so when you say, “citizen,” the implication is you’re … It can be perverted into it being just about citizens, people that … And we know a lot of the interactions happen with people with marginalized communities and with certain populations more than they do with others. We know that, right? You know that, right?

Andrew:

Yeah. Sure. Yeah.

William:

Okay. Also … hold on one second.

Andrew:

Oh, please.

William:

Also, “civilian,” implies that it’s not … Hold on. I had it right here. One second.

Andrew:

That’s okay. No problem.

William:

Okay, also, “civilian,” means, “non-sworn officer.” That’s how it’s referred to. That might be a good point to add, too, that it means, “non-sworn officers.” It’s important to be very clear using the law enforcement language that it’s … You know what I mean? So when they talk … If you ever hear police officers talk, they say, “civilian,” right?

Andrew:

Yeah.

William:

So this is civilian, which implies that they are like … And remember, that also has some implications of othering, like we are some kind of military thing, you know what I mean, where we’re … So we’re trying to break that down to specifically imply that these civilians are now an aspect of their process. And remember that this is community based, but it also includes people in the public sector as well as we have to incorporate the police labor and management, right?

Andrew:

Yeah.

William:

We have grassroots community-based organizations that are going to be an aspect of this to provide the diversity that it takes to look at it from all different angles. That is a extremely important thing, remembering that we are modeling the best of our communities and systems. So we want to have representation, so there needs to be gender equity and race equity, also geographic equity, so from all different communities. And we also want to have area of expertise diversity, right?

Andrew:

Sure.

William:

So that it’s not just that’s a bunch of lawyers who know about the law in police cases. We also want to have impacted people. We want to have … One of the key things is being sure, also, that we’re representing the disabled community, the physically impaired community, as well as our LGBTQ community, who has a lot of police interaction. And we also want to have advocates for those in the recovery community. And then we also want to have age diversity, so we want to ensure that there are young people as well as people who are over 40 and over 50. So I hope that helps with that part of it.

Andrew:

Yeah.

William:

I know I’ve said a mouthful.

Andrew:

Yeah. So back to where it is on the spectrum of reform and then what your thoughts are on the kind of further positions of defunding and Minneapolis not having a police force anymore.

William:

Well, it’s tough for me to comment on that as a city employee, but … I’ll speak contextually, maybe. I think in the city-

Andrew:

Sure. If you want to just focus on where you see this in a broader view of reform going further, we can stick to that if you want.

William:

Yeah. Remembering that it’s a key department in most cities, but in particular in the city of Annapolis. They serve a lot of different purposes, and all of those purposes are not arresting people, right?

Andrew:

Sure, yeah. Yep.

William:

I mean, there is a myriad of things that our police department does and their utility to assist the overarching system to work, right? So contextually in the city of Annapolis, defunding … just uniformly defunding that particular department to me is like defunding the finance department or defunding public works. Because then you have to imagine and thing, “Okay, so we defunded, which means we’ve basically [inaudible 00:41:46], so how are we going to get our roads fixed and how is our trash going to be picked up?”

William:

Again, I cannot speak to Minneapolis. I can’t speak to Seattle or other areas where they’re experiencing that right now. They have their own dynamics that they’re dealing with. In some cases, they are much larger, and in some cases, they’ve experienced repeated, year after year, heinous, very clear violations of people’s constitutional rights as well as murder and fatalities. So they have their dynamics that they’re dealing with, and I’m not privy to being in those spaces to make those decisions, and I’m not directly impacted by that …

Andrew:

Absolutely.

William:

… by their issues that happen in their area. And a lot of them may be much more informed and probably are much smarter than me, so contextually I can only say that the defunding conversation is something that I’m both not in a position to speak on as a city employee, but I also am not compelled to believe that we are to that point.

Andrew:

Okay. Do you think that Citizen Review Board should be a normalized idea across states? And then do you see it as a meaningful step forward, or is there still a long way to go before … Where does the Citizen Review Board fall in the spectrum of reform.

William:

So, I’m a dreamer, as are many people, so the best case scenario … the model of a civilian review board … the model, I believe, should be an integral part of all municipalities and anywhere where there’s law enforcement that interacts with the public. That’s my belief. As a model and a tool. Now, what that looks like, how it lands in other areas that have different dynamics, I’m not sure. I think those people who live where they live should be in a position to determine that democratically, right?

Andrew:

Sure.

William:

That’s number one. Number two is I think I didn’t fully illustrate what some of the key barriers are that you asked me about. One of those is the Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights, which in Maryland is pretty strong and ironclad. And so that’s a very clear … It’s not a clear barrier to creating one. It is a very clear barrier to what I spoke about earlier, which is having the authority, the independence, and the resources to really get to the root causes and really, really be effective as a civilian review board.

Andrew:

Okay. Is that a-

William:

But the take off … Sorry.

Andrew:

Is that a state bill of rights, or is it-

William:

Yes.

Andrew:

Okay. Okay.

William:

Yes, it’s at the state level, which protects police departments and protects … I suggest you give it a look over.

Andrew:

Yeah, right after this I’m going to look that up. Yeah.

William:

You should be, because that impacts a lot of what has been pushed from all over the place in terms of police reform. And even in saying police reform, remember we’re talking about also law enforcement reform. Because even in the city of Annapolis, you have to imagine how many law enforcement agencies we have in our city. We have Navy, we have military, we have state, we have federal. And then we have the city of … And remember we have county police, and they all converge. So remembering that, it’s really good to understand all those moving parts and understand that each thing is a building block.

William:

Our speaking out and moving towards framing a civilian review board is a building block to other things. It is not the magic pill. It is not the end all, be all. It is a tool. It is a necessary tool for us to move closer toward accountability and transparency. But there’s a lot of other work that people need to do. All of us. We need to educate ourselves on what impact these things have on our must vulnerable and marginalized communities. We need to look at the impact it has on our recovery community, meaning those that … because there’s a direct connection between that and people that have entered the criminal justice system, and what happens. We need to ensure that people are able to be productive people when they reenter society. We need to be sure that we are protecting young people who need to understand that the deeply embedded mistrust of police can become a barrier from them fully partaking in this amazing city.

William:

And again, this is not blaming the police department or the individuals. It’s not saying, “Us against them.” We’re trying to stop the, “Us versus them,” part. And you know that disproportionately, those communities that are more impacted by police activity and crime and other things, they deserve an opportunity for their spaces to be safe and for their spaces to be not dealing with trauma on all sides. So that’s a part of it. Really, there’s a therapeutic part to it as well that it provides a space for those residents to kind of work through what some of their preexisting issues are in relation to law enforcement and our police department.

Andrew:

Okay. And then, this is a final question. What do you see as a … What’s the next step? What does meaningful reform look like, even in the years coming?

William:

Well, I think we made a big step in our selection for our new police chief, Chief Jackson. I think it was a big step that I don’t know if anyone even acknowledged that step, which is we had listening sessions with the public in various communities. We had one in Eastport and diverse crowds of people that really took the time, and it was a facilitated conversation where they told the city and the mayor and others … they told them which attributes they wanted in a police chief, which to me is huge, right?

Andrew:

Yeah.

William:

I think it was somewhat overlooked, because we’re all critical because we all pay into the system and we expect a lot, right?

Andrew:

Sure.

William:

But the truth of the matter is, the decision wasn’t made behind closed doors. All things were considered, which to me is one of those evolutions that you asked me about, which is to say, “We selected this police chief. The attributes that we wanted in a police chief are what were considered and added to the series of criteria to select this police chief,” and to me that’s huge. It created a transparent process and ultimately … which is a double-edged sword, is there’s accountability, right?

Andrew:

Yeah.

William:

All of us are accountable for what happens in terms of the leadership of our police chief and the police department, right?

Andrew:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

William:

The other thing I see as an evolution or our next steps is we continue to educate and build on the expertise, the resiliency, the ingenuity, and the investment that the residents of the city of Annapolis bring to the systems that work for them, right?

Andrew:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

William:

Like this, I think that we continue to do that. And you know what? William may not have the best bright ideas, Mayor might not have the best bright ideas … I mean, go down the list, all of these people that are city staff … but it may be my neighbor. It may be the little kid, and it may be the elementary school children. Processes like a civilian review board and this process allow us to really make this system something that is both responsive and a constantly-evolving system that is built by the very people who are impacted by the system, which to me is … That evolution is fully and truly a democratic … is the foundation of our system, of this thing, which is for the people, by the people, and of the people.

William:

And that’s scary. I mean, I know it’s scary for a lot of policymakers and decision makers. It’s a scary thing, but my belief is that it is the most awesome way to make things better forever.

Andrew:

Yep. All right, I think those are all my questions. That was great, though. It was very easy.

William:

So remember, there’s one thing that I think … And I thank you for wanting to do a piece on it, because clarity is really important, and information-

Andrew:

Yeah. I mean, I was reading The Gazette a lot and they were talking about it, but they weren’t really getting into what the plan is or what it means, essentially.

William:

Yeah, and I’ve attended a conference … actually, I went to one of them … Well, I went to a conference and was a part of the conference in Detroit this past year. It might have been earlier this year, but on civilian review boards with NACOLE, which is the National Association for Citizen Oversight of Law Enforcement where I was … and asked people, wanting to learn and know more than I already knew about models, best practices, what works. And it was a lot of law enforcement, former police officers, and also police chiefs there who very clearly understood that this is something, again, that makes the system better.

William:

So we’re having this conversation, and maybe you’ve heard other conversations that are not really diving deeper, and it will not and is not a light undertaking. Again, it is not, get a bunch of people together on a task force and talk about … It’s not that at all. It requires a lot of work, a lot of research, a lot of partnering and working with content experts and people who know a lot better. And quite frankly, it’s also working with our law enforcement officers and people in our department to understand how that works. And a lot of that will be done with people that are brought in in an advisory capacity to inform the process.

William:

So again, it’s not a task force with just a bunch of us just sitting in a room making up stuff or coming up. This is something that is extremely serious and extremely driven by data and understanding knowledge.

Andrew:

What is your particular role in that? I don’t have that written down anywhere.

William:

My capacity in this is I’m the lead on it. So I am both developing the process, developing the timeline, developing the metrics, and so I lead all the things that mean I’ve been appointed by the mayor to do so. And the bad, the troubles, the bumps, they all kind of begin and end with me, and so that’s probably why I probably have talked more about it than anyone else.

Andrew:

Yeah, it was great. All right, because I was supposed to talk to Gavin about this, but I’m glad that … Michelle is her name, maybe?

William:

[inaudible 00:57:22] Mitchelle, yeah.

Andrew:

Mitchelle, okay. Pointed me towards you instead. That seems like the better person to talk to.

William:

And I’m the mayor’s senior advisor, so it is my job, whereas Gavin’s working on 500 different things.

Andrew:

Yeah, totally.

William:

I’m for things like this. I dedicate a lot of time and energy to be sure that I can inform both him and inform the process, right. Yeah, so thank you for reaching out, honestly.

Andrew:

Yeah, thank you.

William:

I’m hoping people get a better understanding of what the undertaking means.

Andrew:

Yeah. Yep. All right. Thank you, William.

William:

All right. I appreciate it. You have everything you need? You have my title and everything?

Andrew:

Yeah.

William:

And you know what I do? My last name is spelled with one L. A lot of people put two Ls on it, but I don’t get totally offended, but you know.

Andrew:

Okay. All right.

William:

[crosstalk 00:58:37]

Andrew:

If there’s anything that comes up, I’ll just shoot you an email. You can just respond to that, if that’s fine.

William:

Hey, absolutely. Or you could call. Anything you need, please reach out, okay?

Andrew:

Okay, thank you. Thank you.

William:

And again, I thank you. Information is power, right?

Andrew:

Yeah. Yep. All right.

William:

All right. Take care.

Andrew:

Yep. Have a good one.

William:

You, too. Buh-bye.

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