"As professionals, we are obligated to deescalate situations, intervene when needed and keep our community members safe. . . .The women and men of the Arlington Police Department extend our condolences to the loved ones of Mr. Nichols.”                          -- Chief Juliann Flaherty

Police Chief Juliann Flaherty

UPDATED Feb. 14: In response to the death of Tyre Nichols caused by Memphis, Tenn., police officers, five of whom were charged with murder and lost their jobs, Arlington Police Chief Juliann Flaherty, speaking at the Select Board’s Feb. 6 meeting, reassured the town that the local police department does not behave in this matter:

Select Board logo, 2019

“After viewing the video released involving Tyre Nichols and five former members of the Memphis Police Department, I am appalled, saddened and disturbed by the actions of the former officers involved. The Arlington Police Department stands with our community in denouncing the brutality that was suffered by Mr. Nichols.

“There is no room in policing for this lack of humanity. The women and men of the Arlington Police Department are committed to fair and impartial policing and to treating everyone we interact with, with dignity and respect.

Aware of history of policing

“As professionals, we are obligated to deescalate situations, intervene when needed and keep our community members safe. We will continue to work with our community to help bring us together. The women and men of the Arlington Police Department extend our condolences to the loved ones of Mr. Nichols.

“I would also like to say that we are aware [of] and acknowledge the history of policing in the United States. We work toward being better police officers every day.

“Here in Arlington, our police officers train regularly in procedural justice and have participated in several workshops, including implicit-bias training and identifying hate crime. We are an accredited police department, which means that our policies and procedures are in line with 21st-century policing.

“We serve with fairness, compassion and tolerance -- and in recognition of diversity, equity and inclusion, and justice." 

Police advisory commission approved

She added an update about an Arlington issue related to policing and the public.

“The [state] Attorney General’s Office recently approved Article 16, for [the creation of] a civilian police advisory commission, and the process has begun to appoint commissioners. [See background below]

“The purpose of the commission is to provide an opportunity for increased trust and understanding between the community and the department; to assist community members with concerns, complaints and commendations; and to provide feedback about policies, procedures and data. 

“We look forward to this partnership and are eager to assist in the work that the commission is tasked with to increase transparency and communication, and continue to build trust with the community.”

 Flaherty reiterated that Arlington police officers receive continual training. “It’s an accredited police department, and its policies are in line with current procedures,” she said.

Town leaders praise Flaherty’s statement

Town Manager Sandy Pooler commended the chief for taking the initiative to make this statement, which he said reflects Arlington’s commitment to a good community police department. “I’m very proud of the Arlington police and Flaherty,” he said.

Board member Eric Helmuth thanked Flaherty for being proactive in initiating a response to the horrific incident in Memphis.

Board member John Hurd said, “It’s important for the people of Arlington to commend the terrific work that the police department does. Many officers come from Arlington and care about the values of our community.”

Background about commission

Susan Ryan-Vollmar, a member of the Police Civilian Advisory Board Study Committee, provided some background about the commission Chief Flaherty notes above:

Arlington is in the process of forming the new Civilian Police Advisory Commission, which is to have nine members. The following entities in town need to put forward one nominee for the commission to the town manager: 

  • Human Rights Commission,
  • LGBTQIA+ Rainbow Commission,
  • Disability Commission,
  • Board of Youth Services,
  • Envision Arlington Diversity Task Group co-chairs with the approval of the Envision Arlington Standing Committee,
  • Council on Aging and
  • Menotomy Manor Tenants Association.

Additionally, the Select Board must put forward two nominees to the new commission. 

Town DEI Director Jill Harvey is working directly with the three DEI commissions (Rainbow, Disability, and Human Rights) to facilitate this process.

As cochair of the Rainbow Commission, Ryan-Vollmer knows that Harvey notified the three DEI commissions in January that the new bylaw creating the Commission had been approved by the Attorney General's Office and that we needed to begin work on finding a nominee for the Civilian Police Advisory Commission.

Article 16 does not refer to the Town Meeting warrant article that created the new commission, it refers to the article in the town's bylaws governing the new Commission. Town bylaws have nine titles, and Title II governs Committees and Commissions. There are 16 articles within Title II, and Article 16 is the most recent. Article 16 contains all of the rules/regulations governing the Civilian Police Advisory Commission, including the appointment process.  

Watch the ACMi news report about a recent demonstration at
Town Hall, focusing on the Cambridge-police-involved case:

April 29, 2022: Session No. 2 OKs panel to pursue civilian police review board

  


This news summary by YourArlington freelance writer Susan Gilbert was published Friday, Feb. 10, 2023. It was updated Feb. 14, to include clarifying information..

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