The city of Thornton may take its next step towards a citizen advisory group for police. Several Thornton city councilors expressed support for more community input on policing at a Jan. 19 planning …
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The city of Thornton may take its next step towards a citizen advisory group for police.
Several Thornton city councilors expressed support for more community input on policing at a Jan. 19 planning session. Terrence Gordon, Thornton’s new police chief, said he wants to establish a police-community team and facilitate more regular community meetings.
Some residents have been asking for these programs for a while, especially in conjunction with state and nationwide calls for more police accountability. Northglenn City Council voted to establish a similar group in December, which will officially launch in coming months. Northglenn’s group will include residents and other community members and will offer input on the police department’s strategic plan, hiring policies and use of force tactics.
The vision for Thornton’s police-community team isn’t as detailed currently. However, Gordon told the council it would be a source of ideas and feedback. It would include residents and other community members, potentially from local organizations or nonprofits.
“A lot of times in government, we work in an echo chamber where we talk to people who think the way we do. We get feedback from people who think the way we do. And what this will do is give us another source of ideas and “barometer” on emerging issues,” Gordon said at the planning session.
In addition to the police-community team, Gordon said he wants members of the police department, including himself, to meet more frequently with the community, including apartment managers and home community managers. The department is planning to reach out to HOAs to schedule such events. The meetings would allow the department to update the community on crime and get to know residents better.
Councilwoman Julia Marvin was excited about the idea. Community-police engagement, she said, is “not something that happens overnight, it’s seeds that you have to plant. I’m thrilled to see that is going to be a priority for you and the department and everything.”
Gordon also said he wants to diversify the department by recruiting at job fairs, colleges, churches and other community-based organizations. The department also will start reporting data about use of force incidents that will include demographic data from the state by 2022.
Several factors, including Gordon’s start, a new state law known as Enhance Law Enforcement Integrity and goals set by a council ad hoc committee on equity all drove the initiatives Gordon outlined at the planning session.
Previous ad hoc equity meetings about the police department “were certainly the most emotional of all three topics and definitely, there were some tears during the community input meeting. I just wanted to let you know that Ward 1 appreciates your efforts and especially regarding the diversity issues,” said Councilwoman Jacque Phillips. “My community is severely impacted by racism on many levels. We love our police and we’re looking forward to the heightened community engagement that you’re proposing.”
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