An Athens Clarke County police car sits parked outside the police department on College Avenue in downtown Athens, Georgia on Friday, February 1, 2019. (Photo/Caroline Barnes, http://carolinembarnes.wixsite.com/photography)

Athens-Clarke County Mayor Kelly Girtz, ACC Commissioners and Athens residents discussed specific plans for a proposed community police advisory board on Aug. 12. The Athens Anti-Discrimination Movement originally pitched the creation of a police oversight group to city officials at an ACC Mayor and Commission meeting on April 2.

Community members see the CPAB as a way to build better relationships between local law enforcement and the Athens community, especially with the black community and other groups disproportionately impacted by the criminal justice system.

“We’re hoping that people from different parts of Athens—East Athens, Bethel Homes, Pineview—will be involved in this process and will sit at the table,” AADM President Mokah-Jasmine Johnson said.

Representatives of Athens for Everyone, Athens Immigrant Rights Coalition and Oconee Street United Methodist Church Racial Justice Task Force shared their goals for the CPAB. These local activist groups seek to create a “task force” of community members to design and pitch a CPAB plan to local officials, in a similar format as a citizens’ advisory group.

In the next few months, the task force will research different models of police oversight groups from across the country and adapt those ideas to work in Athens. Community members will be able to voice concerns and ideas at future CPAB discussion sessions and online.

“We want the police department to be reflective of community values, and we want everybody in the police department to feel as if they’re serving the community,” Girtz said.

Girtz hopes to create the permanent board by the beginning of 2020.

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