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Carrboro's new Community Safety Task Force aims to offer policing alternatives

peace and justice plaza.jpg

Protestors gather outside the Peace and Justice Plaza on Friday, June 5, 2020 to protest against police brutality after the recent deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and other Black Americans.

The Town of Carrboro announced its plans to create a Community Safety Task Force, which will explore alternatives to public and community safety beyond traditional policing.

The initial idea for it was put forward in June of last year, and the resolution establishing the task force was approved by the Carrboro Town Council on April 20.

Council member Susan Romaine said these alternatives to traditional policing could include non-violence and de-escalation training, domestic violence intervention and prevention, youth programs and an on-call crisis response team.

“In the wake of George Floyd’s horrific murder in May 2020, there was an outpouring of folks in the community urging Town Council to re-imagine what public safety could and should look like,” Romaine said. 

The Town is seeking applicants for the task force, which will be comprised of five to seven Carrboro residents and two to three council members.

"The idea is to have five to seven Carrboro residents who have some lived experience or professional expertise in things like criminal justice system, social work, public health and community organizing, experience and expertise that would help to promote the idea of exploring alternatives for community safety that go beyond traditional policing,” council member Damon Seils said.

Seils said recruitment for the task force will be similar to the Town's other advisory boards — going out and encouraging residents to participate.

Romaine said Carrboro’s housing and community services, police and recreation, parks and cultural resources departments will assist the task force as well.

Once the members are appointed, the task force will be holding listening sessions to hear from community members about their immediate and long-term safety needs and interests and educate people about public safety and wellness resources.

Anna Richards, third vice president of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro NAACP, said the task force is needed, and examining how safety is delivered is extremely important.

She said she applauds the effort, and it is beneficial that the Town is enabling community input in regard to safety.

“I think what has come to light is that our systems that are supposed to provide safety sometimes do harm,” Richards said. “More people know more because of the visibility of some of the tragedies of last year."

Romaine said she is looking forward to seeing the task force's upcoming recommendations, which will guide the Town's budget and community investment decisions in the future.

According to the resolution, the task force has a year from when the members are appointed to submit its recommendations to the council, but the timeline could be extended by six months if needed.

The Town of Chapel Hill has a similar task force, named the Re-Imagining Community Task Force, which aims to recommend ways to increase public safety and racial equity in Chapel Hill. The task force finished its own listening sessions and should soon be releasing its recommendations.

Richards said she has worked extensively on addressing public safety. She said time will show how effective the task force is but taking this deeper look at safety is a positive step in the right direction.

“When you know better, you do better," Richards said.

@DTHCityState |

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