News Flash

* Hampton City News

Posted on: June 18, 2020

Hampton has long taken proactive steps toward cultural understanding, police transparency

community

June 18, 2020  – Hampton has been open about having conversations, workshops and policies that address longstanding bias against African Americans. That tradition continues during the current social unrest.  Most recently, Mayor Donnie Tuck – joined by the pastor of Hampton’s Sixth Mount Zion Baptist Temple – has held a series of live Facebook forums to discuss the issues touched off by the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

“Many of the reforms that people are calling for are already in place in Hampton,” said Tuck. “We aren’t perfect, but we have taken intentional steps to ensure integrity, transparency and fairness, and we are committed to continuing to improve along that path.” The City of Hampton:

  • Has supported the Citizens’ Unity Commission as a citizens group since 1995. Today, as a formal city department, Unity sponsors events that afford opportunities to discuss race and cultural bias and to create awareness and acceptance. The commission also conducts training programs in diversity awareness for community and staff.
  • Created the Citizens’ Engagement Advisory and Review Commission for the express purpose of assisting the City Council and the city manager in crisis review, prevention, management and communication. Originally called the Ad-Hoc Leadership Group, CEARC reviews specific events that have the potential to divide the community along any type of ethnic, gender, social or cultural lines.
  • Created the Office of Youth and Young Adult Opportunities to develop programs that positively engage young people in Hampton when it comes to jobs and job training, recreation, mentoring and more.
  • Is a member of Cities United, a national group of mayors that shares information and research to support programs designed to reduce violence among young black men. Hampton hosted the group’s national conference in 2019 and led workshops for other cities showcasing successful Hampton programs.
  • Stepped up efforts to coordinate and publicize existing workforce development programs. The city also opened Workforce One, a center for job training and computer access.
  • Recently saw the mayor join with Hampton City School Superintendent Jeffery Smith to create a mentorship program for African American males in middle school.
  • Has the Human Services Department offer individualized plans for residents who receive financial assistance to help them achieve long-term financial sustainability. Those plans include education, training, work experience, job search and/or other employability enhancement activities.
  • Formally adopted and posted The Hampton Pledge throughout city facilities.

The Hampton Pledge:

I believe that every person has worth as an individual. 

I believe that every person is entitled to dignity and respect, regardless of race, color, religion, age, disability, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or gender identity.

 I believe that every thought and every act of any type of prejudice is harmful to me as well as others. 

Therefore, from this day forward, I will strive to eliminate all types of prejudice from my thoughts and actions, at every opportunity.

 I will treat all people with dignity and respect and I will strive to honor this pledge, knowing that Hampton and the world will be better because of my effort. 

Hampton police practices and written policies

Communities throughout the country are scrutinizing police policies and practices in the wake of George Floyd’s death. Floyd is one of the most recent unarmed black persons to die in police custody.

The Hampton Police Division’s use of force policy requires officers to use the least amount of force necessary to achieve lawful objectives. It also bans chokeholds and mandates officers to intervene if they see another officer using excessive or unnecessary force. The Division has aligned its philosophy with President Obama’s 21st Century Policing model along these key areas:

TRANSPARENCY

  • The city began issuing body cameras in 2015 and completed outfitting every patrol officer in 2016.
  • The police maintain an active and successful social media presence to share information and build trust.

COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT

  • Officers have long-term assignments to a district so they can get to know members of their community.
  • The Community Engagement Unit works with community leaders to evaluate and solve problems in communities disproportionately affected by crime.

YOUTH EDUCATION AND PREVENTION

  • School resource officers work to resolve disputes through alternatives to suspension or arrest; they also provide education on laws, safety, gangs and drugs.
  • Police officers and forensic technicians help teach in Bethel High School’s Law and Public Safety Academy, and run the Explorer Scout program, cadet program and summer camp.
  • Juvenile gun charges are referred to alternative program rather than jail.

CIVILIAN OVERSIGHT

  • Citizen Police Advisory Group advises the chief of police and the Division on crime prevention strategies and police policies, resulting in some policy changes.

TRAINING

  • There is an active training program for recruits and existing officers that includes Procedural Justice Training; Fair, Impartial Policing; Implicit Bias Recognition; Cultural and Racial Recognition; de-escalation strategies and options; and less lethal alternatives.
  • All officers have at least basic crisis intervention familiarity, and many have completed full training.

RECRUITMENT AND STAFFING

  • The police Division is working toward demographics that mirror the community. Currently, 27% of the Division is African American and 16% are female.
  • The Division is also increasing recruitment with a focus on hiring minority applicants; in FY20, 55% of new recruits were a minority.

The City of Hampton “is a diverse community, from ethnic and racial diversity to religion, culture, language, gender, sexual orientation, and beyond,” said Police Chief Terry Sult. “The Police Division focuses on providing high value service to our community by embracing these differences and equipping officers with the knowledge and skills to be culturally responsive.”

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