A the June 10, 2020, Newtown Board of Supervisors meeting, I suggested to Newtown Police Chief John Hearn that the township host a public "Town Hall" meeting where police officers and the community - especially residents who feel they have issues with the police - can get to know one another and have a meaningful dialog. In essence, a bigger, more inclusive, version of "Coffee with a Cop". This is something similar to what the Chief has done on a monthly basis when he was a Captain in the Philadelphia police force.
Listen to the Zoom meeting discussion:
Hearn was selected to be the Newtown Chief of Police back in Februray 2020 after an exhaustive process that involved screening over 20 applicants (read “Meet Newtown Township’s New Police Chief”).
In my review of Hearn's application, I noted the following:
- He has experience preparing budgets for special events
- He takes an analytical approach to making decisions based on facts
- He believes technology can minimize the cost of training
- In his previous position he assigned officers “areas of influence” where they are required to knock on doors and visit businesses and introduce themselves
- He held special “traffic safety blitzes” and emphasized education vs. tickets
- He implemented a “walking with a cop” program
- He held monthly town halls with citizens
Back in March, 2019, when I first wrote about this, I noted that of particular interest to me were items #6 and #7 on this list. Since then I have often brought up the subject of a town hall with the Chief, but not until the #blacklivesmatter demonstrations and, in particular, the June 4, 2020, Vigil at the Garden of Reflection, did this move to the top of my list. It is part of my Vigil pledge to “begin community dialogue … about combating racism and making our community safe for everyone.”
I will be working with fellow Supervisor David Oxley, community leaders, Chief Hearn and Township Manager Micah Lewis to plan for this live Town Hall meeting, which we hope can happen in July 2020, conditions permitting.
Every police department in Bucks County must publicly speak out against racism and the unjust killing of black Americans by law enforcement. That was the challenge issued Tuesday, June 9, 2020, by members of the Bucks County NAACP, which sponsored the June 4, 2020, Vigil in the Garden of Reflection (see end of post).
Here’s the response by Newtown Police Chief John Hearn made at the June 10, 2020, Newtown Board of Supervisors Zoom meeting (view the full video archive here):
Posted on 13 Jun 2020, 01:11 - Category: Discrimination