By Jack Mayne

People of Des Moines “have been shocked by the events in Minneapolis recently over a police officer kneeling on a man’s neck until he died,” Mayor Matt Pina told the City Council at its regular meeting Thursday night (June 11, 2020).

The event reignited the “Black Lives Matter” movement that was founded in 2013 in response to the acquittal of Trayvon Martin’s murderer. Black Lives Matter Foundation’s stated mission is to eradicate white supremacy and build local power to intervene in violence inflicted on Black communities by the state and vigilantes.

Well Trained Police
This recent event, Mayor Pina said, along with others, has caused people in Des Moines to think “about how our city provides police services and what, if anything, can be done to improve our police services.”

Pina said Des Moines is fortunate to have a “well trained, well disciplined police department serving our community.” He noted the Des Moines Police Department recently was reaccredited, as is done every four years, on the 137 standards covering 18 main areas.

“The Des Moines Police Department received a ‘perfect’ on site assessment, which occurs with less than 20 percent of all accredited areas.” Only 48 state agencies out of nearly 300 departments have received that assessment level, Pina said.

Already adopted
The department has adopted suggestion of a social media campaign called “Hate Can’t Wait.” Councilmembers, said Pina, have received a template of policy changes and “our police department has already adopted these suggestions for the use of force,” Pina said. “We will be releasing a statement regarding an in-depth analysis of how we comply with these eight principals.”

“I can confirm that our officers undergo hours of illicit bias de-escalation, use of force and crisis intervention training,” the mayor told Council.

The city has cameras in all police cars and all officers wear microphones, he said, “however, we will also be considering the use and practices of use of body cameras.”

Pina said the city is fortunate to have a “well functioning public safety and emergency management committee as well as a citizens police advisory board.”

Racism has no place
“Both of these advisory groups provide interaction, communication and transparency of our police operations. This, combined with sound policies, training, recruitment and retention have paid dividends, as evidenced by our professional police department serving our community,” he told Council, adding the department strives “to make the community safer.”

“We will be reassessing our current practices and policies and will communicate those changes,” Pina told Councilmembers, adding the administration will continue to build community trust “by holding ourselves to the highest standard.”

“We know and are clear about the fact racism has no place in policing or any other area of life,” said the mayor.

Marina, Redondo Parking to open
On Monday, June 15, the city will reopen the Marina and the Redondo Parking lot, both of which were closed as part of Gov. Inslee’s order in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, Pina told Council last Thursday.

“We want to encourage that the pubic exercise appropriate social distance and utilize masks,” Pina said. “We also will be reviewing ways that we can compensate our season parking pass holders for their lost time this spring.”