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City News

Posted on: December 11, 2020

Racial Equity Steering Committee to Host Public Comment Sessions

COUNCIL NEWS

The City’s Racial Equity Steering Committee will be hosting remote public comment sessions to solicit feedback on the ways that the City interacts with area agencies and organizations in the name of public safety. The Committee is interested in knowing which existing organizations in the city enhance public safety. The Committee is also interested in hearing about ways the City could further support the work organizations and agencies are doing in the name of public safety. 

The first public comment sessions will come during the Committee’s Thursday, December 17, 2020 meeting from 5:00 PM to 6:00 PM. The next public comment session will be held on Thursday, January 14, 2021 from 5:00 PM to 6:00 PM.

Public comment sessions are held on Zoom, and can be accessed through the agendas at www.portlandmaine.gov/agendas.   

For reference, the Committee’s working definition of public safety includes: 

  1. Protecting the wellbeing of people of all races & ethnicities, communities, and organizations.
  2. Safeguarding people from crimes, disaster, and other potential dangers and threats, and reducing fear
  3. Ensuring that all people get a fair and equitable chance to lead a high quality of life that is not predicted by race.

Mayor Kate Snyder announced the appointment of 13 members to the Racial Equity Steering Committee during its September 9, 2020 meeting. The Council established a Racial Equity Steering Committee as part of a resolution that it passed at its July 13, 2020 meeting. 

The Racial Equity Steering Committee is charged with reviewing the City’s approach to public safety, including but not limited to: 

  • an examination of the ever expanding role we, as a City, have asked the police to play in our community — ranging from responding to noise complaints, traffic violations, and violent crime to conducting wellness checks and responding to behavioral health calls and drug overdoses — and whether we have provided them with the appropriate resources to accomplish this work; 
  • the way in which the City interacts with area agencies, organizations, and non-profits in the name of public safety and how these partnerships can best work to enhance public safety in the City; and 
  • recommending changes, as necessary, to various policies, structures, and procedures related to public safety that may disproportionately impact Black people and other persons of color with the specific aim of improving community relations, establishing mutual trust and respect, and rooting out and ending systemic racism.

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