C I T Y  O F  F O R T  P I E R C E

Regular Meeting - Thursday, September 10, 2020 - 4:30 p.m.
Fort Pierce City Hall, Commission Chambers, 100 N US Highway 1, Fort Pierce, FL
Present: Melvin Jones, Sr.; Charles Hayek; Derrick Gibbons
Absent: James Edwards; Dr. Pinkie Hendley
Staff Present: Acting Chief of Police Kenny Norris
Sergeant Jason Braun
  Acting Chief Kenny Norris prayed.
  Motion was made by Derrick Gibbons, seconded by Charles Hayek to approve the agenda for the meeting and move the presentation of the New Leadership Society on the decriminalization of marijuana to the first item.
AYE: Charles Hayek, Derrick Gibbons, Melvin Jones, Sr.
A. Approval of the Meeting Minutes from the August 13, 2020 meeting.
  Motion was made by Derrick Gibbons, seconded by Melvin Jones, Sr. to approve the minutes of the August 13, 2020 meeting.
AYE: Charles Hayek, Derrick Gibbons, Melvin Jones, Sr.
Any person who wishes to comment on any subject on this Agenda may be heard at this time. Please sign the sign-up sheet in order to speak. Please limit your comments to no more than three (3) minutes, as this section of the Agenda is limited to thirty minutes. The Police Community Advisory Board will not be able to take any official action under “Comments from the Public” section.
A. PCAC Community Survey update.
  As it relates to the survey, Member Gibbons outlined that he did follow up with Joe Sweat about placing it on the city’s website but it needed the City Manager’s approval. Member Hayek will make contact with Mr. Mimms on the matter.
Staff Braun informed members that he was finalizing the changes that were made to the survey, and will send it out in short order.
A. Department Update.
  Staff Norris reported that for staffing there were 5 officers in the Field Training Officer (FTO) Program.  He informed the meeting that there was a non-sworn officer who will be 21 years old in a few months who will be ready to join the FTO Program.  There are 7 vacancies, and that progress was being made to fill these positions.
With regards to the recent happenings, Staff Norris informed the Committee that due to the hard work of officers the department has had many successes in a number of cases. He acknowledged the work of the Crime Suppression Unit (CSU) in the arrest of a shooter within 15 minutes of the incident. Mention was made of the hard work of the patrol team in the removal of 15 firearms off the streets.
Member Jones enquired about the Explorer Program. Staff Norris said the program was active with approximately 5 to 7 persons. He said there is need for more young people to join the program because it is very important for the Department.
B. Presentation by the New Leadership Society of Fort Pierce.
  Cambrea Goodman, Vice President of the New Leadership Society of Fort Pierce made a presentation on the benefits of the decriminalization of marijuana of 20 grams or less.Points raised in her presentation to support the issuing of a civil citation included: Police Officers would get more time to focus on serious crimes, less persons would enter the justice system, reduction in the number of persons who are driving with a suspended license, funds collected from the process to be used to assist with drug addiction programs and the reduction of the caseload for State Attorneys and Public Defenders.
Xavier Brown, Treasurer outlined that the request from the Society for the decriminalization of marijuana was for only 20 grams or less.He also made the point that many persons have been affected since once they are arrested will have a criminal record.
It was pointed out by Sean McDermott in his presentation that both police officers and civilians will have a better relationship. He also indicated to the Committee that it was unfair that more black men and women are being imprisoned because of the possession of marijuana.
Overnore Eliassaint, President of the New Leadership Society pointed out that decriminalization was important due to the stigma that marijuana has on the black populace. He pointed out that 24 of the 50 states had already decriminalize marijuana, and that decriminalization would allow for a more equitable system for all. He also stated that public funds being utilized to detain offenders could be used for the youths as well as in the education system.
Staff Norris outlined that over the years many changes have been made towards the decriminalization of marijuana. He referred to the citation program that was implemented in Tampa in 2016, which led the way for the decriminalization of marijuana of 20 grams or less in the Hillsborough County. As a result, he said more research was needed on the matter.
Member Hayek made reference to previous discussions on how the police department has been addressing the concerns of persons found with marijuana.He noted that it is very expensive to conduct testing on samples.Staff Norris pointed out that even though it is very expensive to conduct the testing, the possession of marijuana is still a criminal offence. He noted that testing is being conducted on large quantities.
Member Gibbons questioned how medical marijuana card carriers are treated in the process. Mr. Brown stated that as a medical marijuana carrier he is not excluded from being charged if he should be caught with marijuana.
Member Jones enquired of members of the Society how long they have been advocating for the decriminalization of marijuana. The President of the Society, Overnore Eliassaint said they have been doing advocacy work for approximately 4 to 5 months, and that they have made presentations to the Fort Pierce and Port Saint Lucie City Commissioners. 
A discussion on the implications that the possession of marijuana has had on especially young people followed. Staff Norris while expressing support for a citation program, outlined the various issues to be considered, such as financial support. Member Jones encouraged members of the Society to have discourse with other municipals to see what has worked and not worked in their attempt to implement the program.
Members of the New Leadership Society expressed gratitude to the Committee for inviting them to the meeting, and for allowing them to present their proposal.
  To provide clarity regarding the body worn camera audit process, Staff Norris explained to members that monthly random inspections of 2 officers’ body worn camera and 3 videos were conducted.  He said the auditing process is critical and that this activity also included the shift commanders.
Staff Braun pointed out that it is an insurmountable task to review the data from the camera. He said it would take approximately 83 days to review one week of data from a body worn camera.
  Members were informed of the upcoming Citizens’ Academy which will be held at the police department beginning September 29, 2020.
Member Jones enquired about the upgrading of vehicles for the department since there have been times where officers’ vehicles were broken down.  Staff Braun reported that the department is in the process of procuring new vehicles.
Members Gibbons and Jones shared personal experiences they have had with police officers in the field.  Both members expressed how professional they were approached by officers on different occasions.
As it relates to the starting time for meetings, Member Hayek said that improvement is needed in that area, and call on everyone to adhere by the start time of 4:30 p.m.  In response, Member Jones apologized for his late arrival to the meeting.
  Motion was made by Derrick Gibbons, seconded by Melvin Jones, Sr. to adjourn the meeting at 5:51 pm.
AYE: Charles Hayek, Derrick Gibbons, Melvin Jones, Sr.


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