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Editor’s note: The following was presented by Select Board Chair Andrea Peraner-Sweet at the June 9 Board meeting.
The death of George Floyd and the subsequent events over the past two weeks presents one of those moments in time. Cities and communities across the nation are looking at themselves and it is fitting that Westford also pause and take a look at itself. The purpose of this agenda item is to start a discussion and a conversation. I’m sure if allowed, it could go on for hours.
But that is not the purpose for tonight. The purpose tonight is to begin a conversation that may lead to suggestions for future interactions. To discuss what are we currently doing to address issues such as racism, gender and equality, inclusion, and diversity. What can we do better? What are we not doing to involve the community in the conversations.
Westford bills itself as a welcoming community. But there are residents in Westford who at times have not felt welcomed. Why is that so and how do we address that? How do we create an environment and atmosphere that is safe where residents who perceive that they have been treated unfairly have or have not felt they can report those actions. They feel they will not be heard and their perceptions and experiences will be addressed.
The board and our police department want the community to know that the methods used by the Minneapolis police are not part of any training police or program used by the Westford police. There are policies in place dealing with the use of force, de-escalation, collation of statistics of arrests, implicit bias and those policies will be made available to the public.
As I said, this is the start of a conversation that should involve all aspects of our community including not just elected boards but our police, our schools, our houses of worship and, most importantly, you the residents of our town.
So with that background, I open it up for discussion…
To find the entire select board meeting for June 9, visit westfordcat.org.