Political activists in Palmer want to take charge of the Palmer Police Department. On May 11 they will give a presentation to the city council laying out their plan, which closely mirrors one of the many demands made nationally by Black Lives Matter protesters last summer.
The group behind the Palmer plan is called Mat-Su Moms for Social Justice. They claim to have 300 members. Last summer they took part in at least two protests – one for Black Lives Matter and another against Trump’s pro-life Supreme Court justice pick, Amy Coney Barrett.
In a letter sent to city council members the group stated that it wants to see the implementation of a “police advisory board” for the Palmer Police Department (PPD).
“In addition to supporting the PPD, the police advisory board would also relieve the Palmer City Council of the responsibility of overseeing the Police Department,” the letter states.
That line grabbed the attention of conservative Palmer Mayor Edna DeVries.
“When I got to the part about relieving the Palmer City Council of the responsibilities of overseeing the Police Department, first of all that would all be very illegal,” DeVries told the Watchman. “The whole structure of the City of Palmer government would have to be redone. We have a council/manager type government, and the manager is in charge of personnel.”
While DeVries is highly skeptical of the plan, she agreed to let Mat-Su Moms for Social Justice at least give a presentation.
“We are open to anyone coming to address us – this is what makes America great,” DeVries said.
The letter to city council members notes that the police advisory board aims to “ensure that police officers are held accountable to high ethical standards and that the police department’s methods and approaches are effective and responsive to the community’s needs.” It also states that the new oversight board would “assume the responsibility of understanding the policies and procedures of the PPD,” while making recommendations for changes and “fielding and reviewing complaints from the public about the Police Department.”
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After last year’s city elections, the council lost its conservative majority and the liberal block now enjoys a narrow 4-3 edge. In December, the newly empowered liberal block tried to impose a mask mandate on the largely conservative community. It was met with overwhelming opposition and many long nights of public testimony before finally being abandoned.
On May 11, the upcoming presentation will begin around 7 p.m. The city council will not take any action on the proposal, but DeVries said two or more council members could request that it be placed on a future agenda for action.
While there will be no public testimony on the proposal, members of the community can still comment on it during the audience participation period immediately following the presentation.
- Click here for details on how to participate in the upcoming city council meeting.
- Click here to contact members of the Palmer City Council.