The crucial question (posed by councilmember Doug Barry) is, does this threaten the safety or well-being of any Takoma Park resident?
Er, . . . . no. came the answer (in essence) from Chief Ronald Ricucci
So, what’s the big deal about the TP Police Department losing its accreditation?
It was Topic Number One at the April 7 City Council meeting, The mayor brought it, and the chief, up first thing during the Council Comment segment. The chief told a long story about it. The short version is that due to the transition between chiefs, the transition between employees whose job it is to track accreditation issues, the addition of criteria by the accreditation agency, and the TPPD’s discovery of those additional criteria too late to fully meet them, they decided to opt out of accreditation this year.
* * * *
There has been some buzz about an attempted cover up of the loss, but the Mayor assured citizens “nobody was trying to keep this quiet, and I apologize if that’s how it appeared to be.” He said the council had not discussed it at length and had been planning to deal with it during the upcoming budget sessions when the police department budget was being reviewed.
Doubtless, these explanations and apologies will have no effect on the nattering nabobs of negativity on the Takoma Voice community discussion list where this issue first publicly erupted. There, fewer than a half-dozen list-members, frequent critics of the city and police force, have been working themselves into a state of high alarm about this.
Your Gilbert yawns and moves on.
If you want to get alarmed about something, Dear Readers, get alarmed by how much council meeting time is taken up interviewing potential members of citizen’s committees. Why is it necessary to bring these volunteer citizens before the council? The same thing happens every time. The potential committee members are introduced by a current committee member, the councilmembers ask “why do you want to do this?”, the applicant tells them how long she or he has lived in the city, how his or her children benefitted from living here but now they are older so she or he has more time to volunteer, what his or her work or interest is that qualifies her or him for the committee, how tickled pink she, he, or it is to live in this wonderful city and how “I just want to give something back.”
Then the council has to tell them how wonderful they are for volunteering and how valuable the (insert name here) committee is to the community because of all the work it does on the (insert a list of committee accomplishments here). At which point the currently serving committee members remind the council of any accomplishments they left out.
Really, all the council needs to ask is two questions: “Are you breathing?” and “Do you expect to continue breathing for a year or so more?” This could be done in writing – on a VERY SIMPLE form. Nobody would have to get all dressed up to appear before the council (hmmm, the goddess-motif dress, the tie-dyed t-shirt, or the pants-suit?), and nobody would have to memorize those lists of committee accomplishments.
Speaking of the police, Your Gilbert noted a Gazette article reporting that a 31 year old Sliver Spring resident, a Montgomery County substitute teacher, died in police custody after being tasered. He was arrested for walking on the side of an interstate highway and resisting arrest.
You may recall, Dear Readers, that the Takoma Park Police Department received the council’s permission to purchase (with grant money) enough tasers to fully arm the force. You may also recall Your Gilbert’s post on the matter in which we quoted Amnesty International, “The degree of tolerable risk involving Tasers, as with all weapons and restraint devices, must be weighed against the threat posed. It is self-evident that Tasers are less injurious than firearms where officers are confronted with a serious threat that could escalate to deadly force. However, the vast majority of people who have died after being struck by Tasers have been unarmed men who did not pose a threat of death or serious injury when they were electro-shocked. In many cases, they did not appear to have posed any significant threat at all”.