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Powell critiques 2021 arrest with metropolis’s police overview board

MORGANTOWN — On the floor, the interplay checked all of the bins for the sort of factor that catches hearth. 

It was a bit of after 9 p.m. on Aug. 30, 2021.   

The Morgantown Police Division had been summoned to the downtown Sheetz to trespass three people from the property after an hour of ignored requests. 

Then issues took a flip. 

Earlier than all was stated and completed, there can be a small crowd of cops on the scene and an more and more agitated group of bystanders recording as officers took a Black girl to the bottom in an effort to get her in handcuffs. 

That arrest was the backdrop for a 90-mintue assembly Thursday between Morgantown Police Chief Eric Powell and members of the Morgantown Civilian Police Overview and Advisory Board.   

Board Chair Richard Burks defined that after reviewing every thing from the 911 dispatch logs to arrest studies and body-worn digicam footage, the board needed to make use of the arrest as a case examine and a possibility to listen to from Powell in regards to the specifics of this case, the MPD and policing basically. 

The interplay was conversational in tone. Powell did a lot of the talking and his remarks have been typically candid.  

For instance, in addressing the arrest cited above, the chief stated his eyes have been instantly drawn to the variety of officers on the scene. 

“After I watched what occurred, I comply with the extent that there was most likely too many individuals there, however I can let you know it’s one thing that I’m conscious of and have been conscious of even previous to this incident,” Powell stated. “I’m attempting to deal with it. It’s a tradition factor. It’s a factor you’ve started working on continually and also you’ve obtained to remind individuals of continually.” 

Powell additionally conceded that whereas his division does educate de-escalation strategies, some officers are naturally higher at it and a few officers want time and expertise to develop these expertise. 

Board member Megan Gandy, a licensed social employee, referred to as the scenario “a straight-up energy battle,” and stated she believes the confrontation ramped up as a result of alternatives to deescalate weren’t acknowledged by officers. 

“For us, you need to come to a degree the place you say, ‘OK, this follow of me attempting to deescalate the scenario, it ain’t working no extra,” Powell stated. “There’s additionally totally different ranges of competency with issues like de-escalation. Not everyone goes to have the ability to acknowledge the identical avenues that you simply’re recognizing as a skilled social employee. That’s one thing you’ve started working on.” 

In the end, Powell pushed again on options that race was a motivating issue for officers, as was instructed on the scene and after the actual fact. 

Board member Bryan Church defined he’s racked up numerous time watching body-cam footage as each a public defender and a prosecutor. He additionally famous he has no downside going after officers when warranted. 

“I didn’t have any situation watching that. I believed the officer that dealt with it was very skilled and I believe he gave her each alternative. I believe I recall him primarily begging her to not make him arrest her,” Church stated. “I are likely to agree with you. What are you able to do? In some unspecified time in the future, you’ll be able to solely ask somebody to depart non-public property so many occasions earlier than you need to do one thing.” 

Ultimately, Powell concluded, the buck stops with him.  

“If my officers do mistaken. If my officers aren’t doing what they’re speculated to be doing, belief me, we’re going to take care of it. It’s not one thing I take frivolously,” he stated. 

“I perceive that folks don’t perceive how police function. I get it. I inspired this [board] as a result of I need individuals to know how we function. However we’re not within the enterprise of oppressing individuals, which is so typically what individuals appear to assume. We’re within the enterprise of serving to individuals and ensuring persons are doing what they’re speculated to be doing law-wise.”