The Community Affairs Advisory Board may have reached a final decision on its police survey: leave it to the professionals.
At their meeting on Feb. 1, CAAB voted 4-0 to not do its own survey. Instead, CAAB will advise the city to include more questions about the police when the city releases a survey later this year. Past city surveys have been conducted by firms with experience creating surveys.
In a previous meeting, CAAB had voted to go forward with the survey but the board reversed itself and decided to have another vote.
Chair Michael Goodman, Skip Stadnik, M.E. DePalma and David Walker voted against doing the survey. Tim Ross was not present for the meeting. Bryan Wilson left the meeting before the issue was brought up. Isaac Brooks left in the middle of the discussion before a vote took place.
In an interview with The Gazette, Brooks said he left because the board members in attendance were moving against doing the survey. Brooks, a former police officer, came up with the idea of the survey to gauge public opinion about the police in order to address possible concerns before they potentially become bigger problems.
“You’re making yourself look like you’re trying to hide something,” said Brooks before he left.
At the meeting, two residents spoke against the survey and said they were happy with the conduct of the police. Resident Boyd Corbin urged CAAB to do the survey.
Brooks said that even if only one member of the community is dissatisfied with the police department, CAAB should still try and solicit that resident’s opinions. “We’re here to hear them and represent them,” Brooks said.
But others disagreed.
The CAAB members against the survey said they thought it should be something done by professionals. They also said it should be part of the city’s upcoming survey, planned for later this year, which will save money.
Chief Paul O’Connell agreed. “I’m all for [a survey] because I know we’re not perfect. But it has to be done by a professional and done objectively.”
Goodman said CAAB wasn’t qualified to put together a survey of questions related to resident satisfaction with the police.
“This survey is bigger than us,” he said. DePalma said the board should act more in line with its capacity as an advisory board. “We should advise the city to include these questions in their survey,” she said.
Brooks tried to delay the vote until the entire board was present but Walker said that the decision had been delayed too long already. “If [the other members] are passionate about this they should be here to vote on it. This has been ongoing since November of last year.”