‘Questions that are open’: Community Oversight Task Force to hold open meeting | TheUnion.com

‘Questions that are open’: Community Oversight Task Force to hold open meeting

A self-appointed task force plans on holding a town hall this month about policing in Nevada City.

“We’re hoping that our work will trigger more community involvement, both by the residents and citizens as well as the government,” said Lorraine Reich, with the Community Oversight Task Force, a sub-group of the Peace & Justice Center of Nevada County.

In a letter Reich sent to Nevada City Council members in late July, she described the Community Oversight Task Force as “a group of concerned citizens who have volunteered to delve into law enforcement standards and practices.”

The group plans to hold a “town hall” style meeting from 6 to 9 p.m. Aug. 27 at the Madelyn Helling Library in Nevada City, focusing on topics surrounding the Nevada City Police Department — from the department’s response on Aug. 9, 2020, during a Black Lives Matter demonstration in downtown Nevada City, to the financing of the department.

Reich described the aim for this event as “a public discourse on this whole subject of the level of policing in Nevada City, the quality of policing in Nevada City, and whether our needs — the needs of our community — are being met.”

According to Reich, the event will include both presentations from the Community Oversight Task Force’s members and involvement from any attendees. She added that the group was open to any government officials’ participation as a speaker.

Giving examples of issues to be covered at the group’s upcoming event, Pauli Halstead, a member of the Community Oversight Task Force, said the group was interested in discussing the Nevada City Police Department’s proportion of the city budget — which she described as a “very high” expenditure — as well as the city’s level of crime.

On potential changes to the structure or funding of the city’s police department, Reich said, “I think that all these are questions that are open, and we’re hoping that Nevada City Council is having these same questions, and we’re giving them an impetus to dive into the community discussion.”


On the Community Oversight Task Force’s Aug. 27 event, Nevada City Council member Gary Petersen said Tuesday, “We are looking at the information provided by this group, and we’re interested in what they have to say. But, we are also interested in what the entire community has to say.”

Petersen said that, alongside Council member Daniela Fernandez, he plans to host a town hall meeting on the topic in early September, following a community survey intended “to gather lots of information about the perception of policing and where people think we should go.”

He estimated the survey would be going out no later than next week, and said the date of the town hall had not yet been confirmed.

While Petersen said he was not certain whether he would be attending the Community Oversight Task Force’s Aug. 27 event, he added, “But we’re certainly interested in what comes out of the conversation.”

“It’s more data for us to consider, so we’re open to that as we get the letters,” said Petersen. “But there are different perspectives from outside of the city organization and inside the city organization, and so we need to juggle and balance those fairly.”

Victoria Penate is a staff writer with The Union. She can be reached at vpenate@theunion.com

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