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Murray Journal

Murray commits to racial justice in city policing

Jul 27, 2020 12:04PM ● By Shaun Delliskave

Murray police officers salute during last year’s National Peace Officers Week observances. (Photo Courtesy Murray City)

By Shaun Delliskave | [email protected]

In a joint resolution, Murray City’s Mayor and City Council committed its public safety officers to equal justice, police accountability and racial justice in city policing practices. The resolution was approved unanimously at the July 7 city council meeting and presented to the Murray City Police Department. 

A draft of the resolution was created by Mayor Blair Camp, along with Police Chief Craig Burnett. The mayor and the chief presented a letter to Murray residents earlier in June, explaining city policing practices in light of nationwide protests sparked by the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officers.

In June, Camp announced his intention to create a joint resolution with the city council. According to Murray City Chief Communications Officer Jennifer Heaps, “In crafting the resolution, there were numerous discussions about accountability and policing practices until we developed the final document. We wanted a comprehensive and clearly worded resolution.”

The city’s purpose in offering a joint resolution was to make clear city policing practices to both residents and public safety officers. 

“Transparency is a top priority for this administration, and it is important to document and share our commitment to police accountability and racial justice in city policing practices, while at the same time expressing support for our hard-working police officers,” Heaps said. “We believe our citizens deserve to know that the city will continue to provide ongoing training and community outreach programs, with a focus on guarding against all biases. The resolution also acknowledges that there is always room for improvement, particularly in a quickly changing society.”

A recent lawsuit was filed against Murray Police by a Black woman claiming that she was racially profiled by a police officer. The woman asserts that due to her race, after she was pulled over for a suspected DUI, the officer required her to take numerous sobriety tests, and none proved that she was intoxicated. Despite that, the woman says she was arrested with no proof of intoxication.

Murray City denied the allegations of profiling and responded that it has thoroughly reviewed the incident and will defend itself in court. While the resolution passed after the lawsuit was announced, the drafting occurred beforehand.

“We hope that the resolution will serve as a reminder to everyone that the city has been, and will continue to be, committed to equal justice, police accountability and racial justice. It also confirms the city's support to provide essential training for law enforcement personnel,” Heaps said. “The resolution states that we are ‘committed to an introspective evaluation of ourselves as public servants and citizens,’ and we hope that this carries forward not only in law enforcement but throughout the city as a whole.”

The resolution also stated that police units and command staff, to the greatest extent possible, should reflect the ethnic and racial diversity of Murray. Murray’s police administration team includes one Black and one Latino out of five administrators. The resolution also applauded the Murray PD for its commitment to the city.

After the resolution’s adoption, Camp stated, “I think even more importantly than that, is what the statement makes in support of the police and of human rights.”

The Mayor also presented a draft ordinance regarding the creation of the Public Safety Advisory Board to the council during the committee of the whole meeting on July 21. In general, the board will be expected to become acquainted with the operation and activities of public safety departments (both police and fire). It will serve to review community needs, concerns, expectations and responses relative to police and fire services. A few of the goals of the board will be to promote quality public safety services to all residents and to strengthen equal protection under the law throughout the community.