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The Town held one community conversation on September 29, 2020 to hear the community's concerns, and will be holding more in the future to continue the dialogue. There also have been training programs for Town staff. Additionally, we have joined the Government Alliance on Race and Equity for further training, and we have contracted with All Aces Inc. to do work on a community-wide diversity and equity program over the next year.
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As an accredited police department, we have adopted best practice policies including an entire policy 41 H - Bias-Free Policing (PDF).
It is the policy of the Lexington Police Department that: "Except in "suspect specific incidents," police officers shall not consider the race, gender, national or ethnic origin of members of the public in deciding to detain a person or stop a motor vehicle and in deciding upon the scope or substance of any law enforcement action."
Throughout our policy manual, we promote the fair and equitable treatment of all (also called procedural justice). These policies are all online, and we invite comments and suggestions.
Treating all people with respect and dignity is embedded in all of our strategies to avoid racial profiling. Unconscious bias training has been addressed by the Municipal Police Training Committee in different programs and in defensive tactics training. We also have a progressive policy of avoiding arrest situations, instead using alternatives such as summons, diversion, and restorative justice. All citations and reports are inspected daily by a shift commander, with an eye toward identifying any improper use of our authority.
We have hired high quality officers who use good professional judgment and decision making.
One of the challenges is for dispatchers and officers not to become an extension of a caller's prejudice. We receive calls to dispatch, some with the best intentions (some not), reporting "suspicious" persons or behavior based on their race or ethnicity. Dispatchers must ask probing questions and our officers work hard to validate the credibility of a complaint before intervening.
Our officers are expected to treat all members of the public with dignity and respect. Intimidation is unacceptable, and we do not allow it. We encourage the reporting of any behavior believed to be inappropriate, which can come directly to the Police Chief or directly to the Town Manager, who oversees the Police Department in a civilian capacity. When we receive a complaint, we assign a command staff officer to investigate immediately, and then take appropriate action based on the investigation's findings.
Information on filing police complaints is available on our website.
Treating all people with dignity and respect is a responsibility shared by Town leadership, the Human Services Department, the Human Rights Committee, Schools and the Police Department.
We ask that any crime that involves hate speech or other hateful symbolism be reported to the Police Department. We assign someone from our Department as the designated Civil Rights Investigator for the Town. We will investigate and document the event(s).
If the matter does not rise to the level of a crime, the School Department will be included when their property or students are involved, the Human Services Department will be involved if the matter is broader than the school system, and the Human Rights Committee will be notified of all cases.
We then meet and discuss the proper response by the Town.