West Palm Beach Racial & Ethnic Equality Action Summit 2021

Criminal Justice Policy Recommendations

To reduce racial and ethnic disparities and promote effective crime reductions while building public trust, the Criminal Justice Subcommittee identified the following priorities of focus: Building a diverse team of police officers, creating opportunities for the community to participate in a police review or advisory board, and assessing racial equity training and tools for increased cultural sensitivity of West Palm Beach police officers.

Under these priorities, the Task Force proposes the following policy recommendations:

Last Updated: September 20, 2021

Criminal Justice Policy Recommendations

Recommendation: Establish a Civilian Review Board designed to provide recommendations to the police department

Establish a Civilian Review Board to identify racial and ethnic disparities within the West Palm Beach police department, seek and take public input and comments on these issues, and discuss how to address them to make policy recommendations. Operate within the existing state, county, and city legal parameters that affect the function and operations of this Civilian Review Board.

  • Receive and regularly review demographic data (e.g., race, ethnicity, nativity, etc.) related to information about community interaction with law enforcement and the criminal justice system
  • Ensure a diverse group of members (i.e., geographic location and zones, economic status, cultural background, age including students, disabilities), including members of marginalized communities, are represented on the Civilian Review Board
  • Encourage partnerships with existing racial equity organizations and criminal justice commissions to address transparency, police conduct, and accountability

Recommendation: Target strategies for hiring and maintaining a diverse team of police officers

Develop a strategic plan for recruiting diverse officers who are residents of West Palm Beach, especially from minority groups across the city. Employ intentional efforts to retain and promote exceptional officers with an emphasis on advancing diverse candidates.

  • Create a recruitment package with intentional strategies to increase diversity (e.g., diversity-focused headhunters), enhancing accessibility (e.g., upgraded application service), and capitalizing on the increased compensation package for police officers
  • Invest in youth engagement to recruit youth to receive training in West Palm Beach (e.g., law enforcement magnet schools, a mentorship program for high school students with scholarships to pay for certifications and trainings)
  • Invest in developing and maintaining an independent police department website that is user-friendly and engaging. The website should include an upgraded and easy-to-use application service.

Recommendation: Invest in the police department’s field training program to build a culture of community awareness and best practices in promoting racial and cultural sensitivity

Recognizing that field training officers play a vital role in creating a culture of racial and cultural sensitivity, create incentives for police officers to specialize in and receive promotions as field training officers

  • Require in field training that new officers attend community meetings and have greater interaction with community members in their assigned zones
  • Expand field training to include training that improves communications skills, mental awareness, crisis intervention, and resident outreach and engagement
  • Institute conduction of randomized reviews or monitoring of police bodycam footage to evaluate new officer conduct

Recommendation: Create mechanisms for tracking use of force and data available for identifying and understanding racial and ethnic disparities in community-police interactions in West Palm Beach

Create tools for the police department to capture demographic data (i.e., race, ethnicity, and nativity) related to arrests, traffic stops, and filed complaints and create a public-facing, searchable, case management system to store that data.

  • Require the Use of Force Board to regularly share a public report on the findings and justifications of use of force investigations
  • Include information about police interaction with youth, specifically tracking disciplinary actions in and outside of schools and capturing demographic information (e.g., race, gender, ethnicity, nativity, etc.)
  • Institute and share information from randomized reviews of police bodycam footage

Recommendation: Pilot a crisis intervention team program to work alongside police officers with mental health calls

Launch a pilot program that creates a crisis intervention team of social workers responding to mental health calls with officers, de-escalating crisis situations, and tracking outcomes. Establish an approach that acknowledges the nexus of race, mental health support needs, and deadly police encounters.

  • Analyze models of crisis intervention teams in other jurisdictions to determine a model and best practices for West Palm Beach; consider a partnership with the National Alliance on Mental Health Palm Beach County (NAMI PBC) to establish a crisis intervention team (CIT) program for West Palm Beach
  • Invest in resources to ensure the adequate capacity of social workers and mental health professionals to support and track the efficacy of the pilot program
  • Investigate the creation of a community engagement team with professionals who can better address homelessness, mental health concerns, etc. and take over some of the police functions

Recommendation: Provide and promote a more accessible portal for community members to share information or file complaints of misconduct towards police officers and provide the choice for citizens to remain anonymous

  • Ensure submitted information and issues are made publicly available to increase transparency
  • Establish mechanisms for accountability and follow-up on filed complaints
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