Local group aims to bring race back into community-oriented policing conversation.

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COLUMBIA – Members of the group Race Matters, Friends plan to speak up at Tuesday's city council meeting to address race, amid the release of the Community-Oriented Policing report.

The president of Race Matters, Friends, Traci Wilson-Kleekamp, is hopeful that the City Council will take the group’s comments into consideration.

“We hope that they reject it and actually get someone who’s qualified to do that kind of work, to ask those kind of questions,” she said.  

Wilson-Kleekamp said the group is hoping the city council will hire someone similar to the consultants used for the Mayor’s Task Force on Climate Action and Adaptation Planning. 

“They'll do it for the things that they’re comfortable doing, but for the things that they’re uncomfortable doing, they do the bare minimum,” she said.

The group will address policing, responding to the council work session on the Vehicle Stops Report, and the difference between racial bias and racial profiling at Tuesday's meeting. 

Lynn Maloney will be one of the members representing the group at the meeting. She will talk about the difference between racial bias and racial profiling. Maloney hopes to clarify this topic for the council members and the rest of the community.

“The difference is very important and we have been talking about that difference with Chief Burton for two years," She said.

Maloney said the group knows it isn't possible to measure bias, which is why it is important to know the difference."When talking about racial profiling, we want to focus on things that we can measure, and that we can change," she said. 

Maloney said she didn't know the community oriented policing report would be released when she scheduled her public comment, but she glad she did.  

"Now having the opportunity to read the draft of that report as well as having attended the [vehicle stops report] work session, we really want to encourage council to not accept this report as written," Maloney said. 

Race Matters, Friends’ president said, “Most significantly though it is not a project proposal, it is a report for a tax increase which is not what the resolution was about.”

She said the report brought to the City Council doesn’t follow the initial proposal.

“So if the council accepts that plan, then they are accepting something that doesn't follow their direction,” Wilson-Kleekamp said.

Wilson-Kleekamp said the group hasn't spoken to Sgt. Fox or anyone from the city about their concerns yet. The group will have a chance to do so at the council meeting Tuesday night.

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