Editor of the Reformer,
I applaud the efforts of the Community Safety Review committee. The nine member committee I think is a positive step in safety related issues. So, I read with interest the story that Chris Mays had on Monday ("Forum sheds light on local injustices," Nov. 23) on the committee’s goal to conduct "… a very in-depth review of the Brattleboro Police Department policies, procedures and statistics, and also an analysis of who does get called when something happens.” That in-depth review and evaluation is critical and it’s good to see that level of work. But, committee members need to do more than that. A mandatory step in the process has to be a ride along for each committee member with a Brattleboro police officer.
There is a saying “don’t draw me a map unless you’ve been there,” and since the committee has been charged with mapping out new policies and procedures, a necessary step needs to be a ride along with an officer on his shift. Get a personal look at what the job entails, the calls handled, their work with members of the community.
The committee’s desire to conduct “a very in-depth review of the Brattleboro Police Department policies, procedures and statistics” still, in the end, relies on the observations of others. In-depth interviews are one critical component in the process — but in-depth interviews can’t deliver the complete picture because what may seem important or impactful to one person, may not stand out to another. I’m sure the journalists on your paper know, there is a filter process individuals have in answering questions in an interview, based on personal experiences, observations, etc. Those personal experiences are a critical part of the safety review process, but for committee members to really get an accurate picture, it’s necessary, mandatory, for the safety review committee and Select Board members as well (if they haven’t already done so) to pair up with a police officer for a shift. The best insight always comes from experience.
I understand the health issue with COVID in regard to a ride along. Officers and committee members can get tested, get cleared and get in a car to get the necessary total picture. Don’t rely only on the observations and answers of others, blend those critical interviews with the committee members' personal insight gained by pairing up with a Brattleboro police officer. As the saying goes, “… to acquire knowledge, one must study; but to acquire wisdom, one must observe …”
Guilford, Nov. 23