Northampton Policing Review Commission

Background

The recent killings of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and Rayshard Brooks have sparked national protest, once again exposing historic inequities and systemic racism in policing and our society at large in the United States. Propelled by these tragic events nationally and their connection to 400 years of racial injustice, hundreds of Northampton residents have called upon their elected leaders to rethink the city’s approach to policing, rethink whether and what police services could be delivered by others, and rethink how we structure and fund community safety moving forward.

The Mayor and the City Council are committed to initiating a sweeping public policy review and community conversation about policing and community safety. Northampton’s elected leaders are united in agreement that we are in a critical moment as a city and a nation that calls for profound structural change and must work together to identify and enact necessary reforms with deliberate speed and lasting impact. 

On July 9, 2020, the Mayor and the City Council formally created a special resident commission to study these complex issues and recommend reforms to the current organizational and oversight structures, municipal funding allocations, and policies and ordinances that together can transform how the city delivers policing services while ensuring community safety equitably and justly for all. 

Issues to be studied by the commission shall include, but are not limited to:

Department size, structure, services, and budgetBody worn cameras
Use of force policiesUnion contracts
Citizen complaint processesCivilian oversight/review models
Recruitment and diversity policiesTransitioning 911 calls for mental health, houselessness, substance abuse disorder, and other non-criminal services and domestic violence calls to civilian responders or social service agencies.

Training and equipment

A study of resources for governmental and non-governmental investment in needs that if met reduce crime.
Data collection and reporting transparencyAn examination of alternatives to current policing policies and practices.

Size, Composition, and Appointment Process

The Northampton Policing Review Commission shall be a fifteen (15) member public body made up of Northampton residents with a demonstrated interest, experience, or expertise in the issues under review by the special commission. 

The Mayor shall appoint six (6) members and the City Council shall appoint nine (9) members by a review process to be determined by each appointing authority. Mayoral appointments shall include a member of the Northampton Human Rights Commission. City Council appointments shall include not more than two (2) City Councilors. 

The commission shall include representation of not less than eight (8) members who are Black, Indigenous, People of Color, or from other historically marginalized communities who have been targeted and harmed by U.S. policing practices. The commission shall elect its own co-chairs who shall be resident, non-elected members. 

The appointment process shall be completed on or before September 3, 2020, and the Northampton Policing Review Commission shall convene its first organizational meeting no later than September 24, 2020.

Meetings, Public Hearings, and Staff Support

The commission shall set its own meeting schedule as determined by the body. In addition to regular meetings, the commission shall hold at least three (3) public hearings to gather public input on issues under review. If in-person meetings are allowable and advisable, the hearings should be in Northampton, Florence and Leeds. All meetings and public hearings shall comply with Massachusetts Open Meeting Law, including remote meetings held in accordance with Governor Baker’s COVID-19 emergency orders. 

The Mayor shall file a financial order with the City Council to fund consulting or staff support.

Preliminary and Final Reporting Deadlines

The Northampton Policing Review Commission shall issue a preliminary report to the Mayor and the City Council on or before December 17, 2020, and release it for public review and comment.

The Northampton Policing Review Commission shall issue a final report with recommendations to the Mayor and the City Council on or before March 18, 2021, which is almost two months prior to the required submission of the fiscal year 2022 city budget. If needed, the commission may request extensions of these deadlines.

Spanish Version

A Spanish version of this web page can be found here

NPRC Spanish Flyer

Image of NPRC Flyer - Spanish

How to Apply

Northampton residents interested in serving should send a letter of interest by August 14, 2020, to the Mayor and/or the City Council by mail, email, or by other arrangement if needed. 

Submissions to the Mayor

  • Email: mayor@northamptonma.gov
  • Mailing address: 210 Main St., Attn: Mayor’s Office, Northampton, MA 01060
  • For questions, call: 413-587-1249

Submissions to the City Council