A coalition representing minority groups in Toledo and the city of Toledo signed a “Code of Conduct” for police Saturday that is aimed at improving relations between officers and young people in the city.
Amid a ceremony that started with a prayer and an extended handclap, the Farm Labor Organizing Committee in South Toledo hosted the signing by about a dozen people known as the Black and Brown Coalition. They included Police Chief George Kral and Mayor Paula Hicks-Hudson.
The code requires members of the community to cooperate with police in their basic investigations by behaving respectfully, keeping their hands in plain sight, and refraining from “excessive movement” that cannot be monitored by officers during the stop.
It also guarantees a citizen’s right to request a police officer’s name and badge numbers and to record a stop on their cell phone. It also says that members of the community agree to “act diligently” in helping to identify criminal behavior and to help keep the community safe.
As for officers, the code says they will remain calm, use de-escalation techniques, not use force against people who are handcuffed or restrained “unless it is objectively reasonable and necessary,” and not use force against people who confront them verbally.
Among many other provisions in the four-page document, the police department agrees that “officers will be encouraged to spend a minimum of one hour on foot patrol to know members of the community.” The code says that people who don’t speak English may request a Spanish-speaking officer “to help avoid misunderstandings.”
Baldemar Velasquez, president of FLOC, said the document was two years in the making.
“This is the pledge we are making as community people to make the Toledo Police Department the best police department in the whole United States of America,” Mr. Velasquez said. He called the code a “mechanism on the ground that citizens can engage in to question some of the relationships we have with the police, and that the youth will have a mechanism other than Internal Affairs to air their complaints.”
He was joined at the table by representatives of other organizations, including the Toledo chapter of the NAACP, several unions, the Toledo Community Coalition, Latins United, and FLOC Homies Union.
Ms. Hicks-Hudson told the audience of about 50 people inside FLOC’s headquarters on Broadway that she was grateful for their participation.
“You believe just as I believe we can take care of our community in partnership with the police, not pointing fingers but holding hands to strive for solutions,” Mayor Hicks-Hudson said.
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