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Editor of the Reformer,

Today I am writing to offer an apology to The Community Safety Review Committee, and all who have been involved in their work at any level.

I would like to do so by speaking about the first Municipal Diversity and Inclusion class I participated in early on in my time on the board. Within about the first five minutes of the class, we were told by the instructor, that we were about to learn that "being fair" doesn't mean "treating the same" and that "equal" does not mean "equitable. The rest of the session discussed the importance of raising up voices who have less power within our systems and structures to level the playing field. Unfortunately, we forgot that training when setting the date for the topic of Police Policies and Procedures. We missed an opportunity to change the game.

Had we stayed within the spirit of that training, we would have scheduled a meeting centered around Chief Fitzgerald and Captain Carignan's presentations after the Community Safety Review Committee presented. While I fully appreciated and was interested in the presentation, it was admittedly, not the right time.

My apology also comes with the realization that I felt comfortable with the "norm" (interrogating a specific Department outside of their budget presentation) and failed to see the harm that doing so caused. I felt "fine" with business-as-usual power and privilege speaking first. This is a good example of intention versus impact. Those of us in positions of power, need to take a second look before sticking to norms such as this, to be sure there will not be an adverse impact, regardless of intention. We must make sure we do not continue to perpetuate systemic power imbalances which serve to create less desire to come to the table, less trust in us as a Board and as a municipality, and worse so, do nothing to heal the pain caused by our systems.

Stepping outside of norms is an ever evolving process. I can't promise to be perfect, but I will learn from this mistake, and would like to reaffirm my deep commitment to fully hearing the data, testimonies, and recommendations from the Community Safety Review Committee.

I am once again reminded to read my own email signature: "Well intentioned people often perpetuate systems of inequality without malice, but with full effect." -- Maliq Matthew

Brandie Starr

Brattleboro Select Board member

Nov. 25

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