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UPDATED April 29: With 25 of 77 articles agreed to in the first session, the second on Wednesday, April 27, proceeded with deliberation, addressing three articles.

One of them, Article 8, aims to establish a commission to seek a civilian police advisory board, hoping to increase trust between the public and police.

Following discussions extending from after the 9:30 break until adjournment, the meeting addressed two amendments -- from McKinnon and Klein-Vakil.

After detailed debate, the Klein-Vakil amendment passed. The final vote on the main motion with both amendments passed. Article 8 received a notice of reconsideration. Further details below. Session 3 takes place at 8 p.m. Monday, May 2, starting with Article 9 (net zero). 

Article 6: Amendment/updating Human Rights Commission bylaw 

This amendment revises the Human Rights Commission’s bylaw, enabling the commission to update and amend its procedures. The bylaw clarifies the commission’s duties and procedures in responding to incidents and complaints, and how it applies to all persons. It also provides for professional staff support and gives the commission the power to pursue grants. 

Article 6 was approved, 234-7.

Article 7: Bylaw amendment/Youth and Young Adult Advisory Board 

Article 7 creates a Young Arlington Collaborative to encourage youth and young adults to participate in local government and enhance their representation. Each precinct will choose two members: one youth (ages 12 through 20) and one young adult (ages 21 through 39). The first round of members will be selected randomly from names put forward from each precinct, and the Select Board will confirm the final approval. 

This advisory board will provide only advice and input; it’s not a decision-making body.

To ensure equity for all age groups, there will be working groups that include other residents from all age categories.

Article 7 was approved, 241–3.

Article 8 : Bylaw amendment/Civilian Police Advisory Commission

This establishes a commission providing a public forum for feedback on policing in town, educates the public about their options for filing complaints and commendations regarding police conduct and guides community members in filing complaints and commendations. It serves as a civilian resource and forum for increased trust and understanding between citizens and the Arlington Police Department (APD).

The article contains two amendments:

  • No. 1 (McKinnon): Highlights the need for continuing training for equity, diversity, inclusion, cultural humility, implicit bias and language access.
  • No. 2 (Klein-Vakil): Restores the eligibility requirements to match those recommended by the commission’s study committee, to preclude former law enforcement officers from consideration as members. A civilian commission will work with the APD from a civilian perspective, to make the police department’s operations more transparent and accessible to residents, including making data about the APD workings more visible.

“Although the APD has a well-deserved reputation for excellence, many people have had a negative experience with the APD, yet are reluctant or uncertain about how to comment on the department, both negatively and positively. Oftentimes, these are minorities, members of the LGBTQ community, or the disabled,” said study committee co-chair Laura Gitelson (17).

“The commission will report to Town Meeting, but not conduct investigations,” added Gitelson.

Chief, members comment

APD Chief Julie Flaherty said that having an advisory committee will increase the quality of the APD’s work. “It would further our mission in building trust with the community, and welcome input and discussion about the police. However, someone with a law enforcement background would be invaluable, and I request that a member of the police force be on the commission.”

Elizabeth Dray (10) said, “This commission is not a punishment for the APD, but serves to strengthen the relationship between the town and APD. The police will be called on as advisors, but it’d be too much of a power imbalance if police officers are on the commission.” 

Arlington’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Director Jillian Harvey said, “There’s a place for a law enforcement officer down the road, but not in the beginning phases. Trust needs to be built over time; it doesn’t happen overnight.

The first amendment passed, 202-35, with five abstentions.

The second amendment passed, 156–76, with five abstentions.

The main motion, with both amendments included, was passed, 214-18, with three abstentions.

Klein's notes, background

For further details, read notes by Christian Klein (10) >> He commented: "Only three articles, but they were all consequential. The voting system had a bad night. Votes took a long time, and that led several members to be concerned that their votes were not being counted."

The 252 elected members will meet every Monday and every Wednesday from 8 to 11 p.m. until all 77 articles in this warrant and that of the May 11 Special Town Meeting have been voted on.

Among the articles at the annual meeting are those addressing zoning, leaf blowers, single-use plastic and a civilian police advisory board.

The public can view the meeting via ACMi cablecast on its government channels (RCN, 614 or 15; Comcast,. 22; or Verizon, 26), or by watching the live stream at  

Town Meeting information at town website | YourArlington Town Meeting information

This news summary was published Thursday, April 28, 2022, and updated April 29, with more detail by freelance writer Susan Gilbert.

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