15 appointed to Northampton’s new Policing Review Commission

  • Jasmine Sinclair, center, with red mask, stands atop a concrete barricade in front of the Northampton Police Station on Center Street to lead several thousand people in a chant during the “Stand Up for Black Lives!” protest presented by Black Trans Lives Matter on Saturday, June 6, 2020. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

Staff Writer
Published: 9/9/2020 1:14:04 PM

NORTHAMPTON — Josey Rosales keeps their car’s registration accessible in the console, and if pulled over, they take it out before the police come to the car. 

“I have that inherent anxiety about being perceived in a particular way that would end my life,” Rosales said. In interactions with the police, they said, “there’s this level of inherent anxiety about the parts of me that are Hispanic, Latinx, and the parts of me that are queer.”

The Northampton resident is one of 15 who will study policing in the city and recommend changes as part of the Northampton Policing Review Commission — a new group whose members were announced at last week’s City Council meeting.

The commission was proposed after residents asked the City Council in June to make significant cuts to the Police Department budget. More than 60 people sent in letters of interest.

Those members are Lois Ahrens, Eliazabeth Barajas-Roman, Booker Bush, Daniel Cannity, Nick Fleisher, David Hoose, City Councilor Alex Jarrett, Carmen Lopez, Javier Luengo-Garrido, Dana Olivo, Nnamdi Pole, City Councilor Michael Quinlan, Josey Rosales, Cynthia Suopis and Larissa Rivera-Gonzalez.

“My hopes are, on a Northampton level, that we start looking at — how can we maybe move some funds toward more community-centered programs?” Rosales said. “Because a lot of what policing does is treat a symptom of society rather than a cause.”

Gina-Louise Sciarra, president of the City Council, appointed the majority of the members — which she has the authority to do per the city charter — and some were chosen by Mayor David Narkewicz.

Sciarra hopes the group can keep up the unprecedented level of community engagement seen earlier this year. “I don’t think anybody has ever seen before that amount of energy,” she told the Gazette. “It’s a strong group that bring varied, deep personal and professional experiences to this work.”

Hoose, of the Northampton-based law firm Sasson Turnbull Ryan & Hoose, brings professional experience to the commission. “I’ve been a lawyer for 40 years, mostly doing criminal defense and civil rights work  …. I have a lot of background and knowledge about policing and how police interact with people in the community,” he said.

“I think we have an opportunity here, in a place like Northampton, to really be leaders in the region, the state, whatever, in terms of looking with a fresh set of eyes on how we view the police,” he noted.

Luengo-Garrido, who works for the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts, said that “as an immigrant and a brown person, I bring a pretty unique point of view.”

He would like to see the public engage with the commission, he said. “I hope that people get involved, they attend the meetings and they participate in the public speaking portion of the meeting.”

Cannity spoke in support of the commission during public comment, but said the commission is just one way to make change. “Please do not forget that even though this commission is set to be created, and that’s one step ... it’s not the only avenue to pursue, and we all have a responsibility to continue through all the other avenues that we have,” Cannity said.

The group’s first meeting must be before Sept. 24, per the resolution that created the group, and its members will finalize a report with recommendations by mid-March, 2021.

Greta Jochem can be reached at gjochem@gazettenet.com.
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