BREAKING NEWS Jackson County Sheriff's Office investigating report of dead body near Woodville Full Story
STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

Huntsville Police create response to community suggestions

The Huntsville Police Department published its 73-page report Friday afternoon.

Posted: Aug 1, 2020 12:07 AM

After more than two months of off and on protests and calls for police reform around the country and in north Alabama, the Huntsville Police Department (HPD) released its response to a list of changes pushed for by local organizations.

Community activist Rev. Dexter Strong said Friday was "a good first step in a marathon of steps."

"I'm happy that HPD was responsive to community requests, but I am disappointed with what they put forward. The posture predominantly is that HPD is doing everything right already or it's constrained by state law. And if this posture continues to be the predominant attitude of HPD and city officials there will continue to be a rift between community leaders and the people who are called to protect and serve," Strong said.

Huntsville Police Lt. Michael Johnson said many of the items called for by community organizations, like banning chokeholds and having an independent oversight committee, were already in place before coming up in recent weeks.

According to the report, Huntsville Police stopped training its officers to perform "lateral vascular neck restraints," commonly referred to as "chokeholds," back in 2014. However, the document states that while they are not taught in training, chokeholds are not outright forbidden by HPD. 

It states that "while 'chokeholds' are not a trained technique, and are not authorized under normal situations, there are circumstances when an officer's survival may allow for untrained techniques to be used."

Lt. Johnson said that the department is making some changes based on the recommendations from community groups like the Citizens Coalition for Criminal Justice Reform. One update is to have an internal committee made up of a captain and a few lieutenants who will be tasked with reviewing policies every two weeks.

"Having a committee is going to add structure. It's definitely going to make the policy making process change a little bit more robust," Lt. Johnson said.

A timeline for when that will begin hasn't been determined, but Lt. Johnson said it is in active development. He also said some former community programs will be coming back in the near future and the department will launch a podcast to have an ongoing dialogue with members of the community.

In addition, within the next 90 days, they will start populating a website with the department's policies and written directives. Lt. Johnson said he thinks that that along with the report published Friday will help keep the public engaged and interested in policing.

"We're hoping it has a positive effect with what we released. We're trying to be as transparent as possible. Everything, like I said, from our training to our policies to our community outreach programs," Lt. Johnson said.

Huntsville City Council Member Frances Akridge said she is supportive of the police department and was glad to see some of the steps taken with Friday's report. 

She said she is looking into ways to amend the Huntsville Police Citizens Advisory Council (HPCAC), one of which would be to allow them the ability to continuously have access to the misconduct reports of officers.

"I think it would be very helpful if the Citizens Advisory Council not only every once in a while say, 'Oh, let's take a look at those stats,' but that they review them every month," Akridge said.

However, Strong said that the HPCAC needs far more independent power than it currently possesses.

"A citizens' advisory committee without subpoena power is toothless. And I also believe that the Citizens Advisory Committee should be completely detached from the political process. I'm not sure if elected officials should be appointing people to represent the interests of the public, considering that elected officials have political interests to protect and will appoint people who are reflective of their ideology," Strong said.

He said the HPCAC would be better suited under a diversity and inclusion office in the city government. It's unclear if the HPCAC as it currently exists could be moved under the purview of the current Office of Multicultural Affairs in Huntsville.

Right now, the organization is in the midst of reevaluating the protests that happened in Huntsville in early June in response to the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

The results of that won't be known until likely late August or early September, but Strong argued on Friday that even without seeing that review, he said HPD needs to make some changes to how it responds to protests like those.

"If HPD believes that they responded appropriately on June 1 and June 3, as per their bylaws, then there's a vast gulf between the value systems at work at HPD and among municipal leaders and people who feel disaffected and abused by law enforcement," Strong said. 

Community input on those protests is welcomed by the HPCAC until August 7. 

Huntsville
Few Clouds
74° wxIcon
Hi: 75° Lo: 45°
Feels Like: 74°
Florence
Clear
76° wxIcon
Hi: 74° Lo: 46°
Feels Like: 76°
Fayetteville
Clear
72° wxIcon
Hi: 74° Lo: 43°
Feels Like: 72°
Decatur
Clear
74° wxIcon
Hi: 76° Lo: 44°
Feels Like: 74°
Scottsboro
Clear
73° wxIcon
Hi: 74° Lo: 47°
Feels Like: 73°
WAAY Radar
WAAY WAAY-TV Cam
WAAY Temperatures

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 138162

Reported Deaths: 2405
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson20221352
Mobile13558295
Tuscaloosa9029118
Montgomery8894187
Madison800580
Shelby616450
Lee601761
Baldwin564052
Marshall398345
Etowah357545
Calhoun356944
Morgan334929
Houston295421
Elmore273948
DeKalb246121
St. Clair237937
Walker236987
Talladega219030
Limestone215720
Cullman192220
Dallas179926
Franklin179430
Autauga179127
Russell17903
Lauderdale175934
Colbert168426
Blount162915
Escambia162024
Jackson161112
Chilton160930
Dale141844
Covington141628
Coffee13936
Pike122011
Chambers117942
Tallapoosa117385
Clarke110916
Marion97629
Butler91740
Barbour8967
Winston75112
Marengo72820
Pickens67215
Randolph67213
Bibb66411
Lowndes65927
Hale65328
Geneva6505
Lawrence63625
Cherokee62013
Bullock61015
Clay5929
Monroe5928
Washington56012
Crenshaw54532
Perry5436
Conecuh53811
Wilcox53211
Henry5145
Macon48318
Fayette47311
Sumter43419
Cleburne4085
Lamar3822
Choctaw35212
Greene30615
Coosa1743
Out of AL00
Unassigned00

Tennessee Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 196139

Reported Deaths: 2454
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Shelby31202472
Davidson26874312
Hamilton968795
Knox968180
Rutherford952392
Williamson542336
Sumner492298
Wilson360547
Putnam338344
Montgomery317446
Unassigned30834
Madison306366
Bradley298817
Out of TN293927
Sevier267715
Blount258924
Maury245726
Washington239338
Sullivan226533
Robertson225539
Hamblen196528
Tipton186019
Gibson174625
Trousdale16757
Hardeman158926
Wayne15055
Dyer143017
Bedford138017
Coffee130214
Dickson129716
Fayette123621
Weakley123421
Loudon12267
Anderson122413
Cumberland122319
Obion122011
Carter119928
Henderson119524
Greene118546
McMinn117626
Jefferson116114
Lawrence110814
Warren10857
Monroe108319
Hardin107716
Macon107021
Lauderdale101716
Franklin101010
Haywood100623
McNairy93018
Lake9282
Carroll91720
Roane9176
Bledsoe8644
Rhea86315
White85610
Hawkins84320
Cheatham8289
Marshall7915
Overton7826
Cocke75910
Johnson7523
Smith74511
Giles65417
Chester65311
Lincoln6461
Henry64010
Hickman6128
Fentress5884
DeKalb57614
Crockett55819
Marion5558
Decatur5387
Campbell4674
Claiborne4495
Polk41010
Grainger4043
Union3822
Benton3428
Jackson3355
Grundy3266
Morgan3253
Cannon3041
Unicoi2921
Humphreys2683
Sequatchie2493
Clay2435
Houston2432
Meigs2313
Scott2252
Stewart2232
Lewis2111
Moore1881
Van Buren1670
Perry1530
Pickett1312
Hancock1093

Community Events