Wicomico Co. NAACP to Hold Forum on Police Accountability - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Wicomico Co. NAACP to Hold Forum on Police Accountability

 SALISBURY, Md.- The Wicomico Chapter of the NAACP wants to reform how some police investigations are reviewed. The organization wants the public’s input Thursday at a community forum in Salisbury.

Wicomico County NAACP President Mary Ashanti said the chapter is trying to get a police oversight board established in the county. Ashanti said the chapter wants federal law enforcement officials to conduct independent reviews of shooting investigations that involve unarmed suspects and police.
 "One of the main concerns that citizens tell us is that police should not be investigating themselves when there is a killing,” Ashanti said. “They should be investigated by the U.S. Department of Justice or the FBI."

Ashanti said a civilian review board should then look at the review conducted by federal officials.

Nate Williams of Salisbury thinks the push for an independent review board is reasonable.

"I think that would help; it definitely would point things in the right direction,” Williams said. “I think that if people are held accountable for what they are doing, and if they know that their actions will be reviewed later on, I think they would be more mindful of the way they're behaving."

Carol Hardaway of Salisbury said an extra set of eyes would not hurt.

"I think it can be less bias about a situation, they [federal officials] can look at it from a different perspective," Hardaway said.
The community forum will take place at 7p.m. inside the Chipman Cultural Center on Broad Street in Salisbury. Ashanti said the purpose of the forum is to engage citizens in developing strategies to address charges of police misconduct and to learn how the community and police can build a stronger relationship.

 Ashanti said Charles E. Phillips, a conciliation specialist at the Community Relations Service under the U.S. Department of Justice, will talk about ways to create police oversight board. Ashanti said Phillips will inform everyone about how effective the board has been in other cities.
The issue of police force recently came back into the national spotlight after Michael Brown, an unarmed teenager, was shot and killed by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri. Brown's funeral was today.

Ashanti said talks about reform started before Brown's death and after three local police-involved shootings this year in Wicomico County.

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