Item Coversheet

Town of Arlington, Massachusetts

Warrant Article Title:
Warrant Article Text:
To see if the Town will vote to form a Committee to study the creation of an Arlington police civilian review board independent from the police department with the authority and resources to receive and investigate complaints, review police services and make recommendations for their improvement. The study committee shall be comprised of seven (7) voting members and three (3) non-voting members. The study committee will make its decisions based on the vote of a simple majority of the committee’s voting members who shall be appointed to the committee by: the Envision Arlington Standing Committee (1); the Arlington Human Rights Commission (1); the LGBTQIA & Rainbow Commission (1); the Disability Commission (1); the Board of Youth Services (1); the Equal Opportunity Advisory Committee (1); and the Town Moderator (1). Non-voting members of the committee shall include one (1) representative from the Arlington Police Department, the Town’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Coordinator, and the Town Counsel. The membership of the study committee’s voting members will include at least one Town Meeting member and shall reflect racial/ethnic and other forms of diversity of Town residents. The study committee will complete its work and recommendations and shall report to the 2021 Annual town Meeting; or take any action related thereto.
Requested by:
(Inserted by the Select Board at the request of Jordan Weinstein and ten registered voters)

*This articles returns to the Warrant from the 2020 Annual Town Meeting in revised form.

The Select Board urges Town Meeting’s support for the establishment of a study committee to evaluate the creation and use of alternative, civilian-based mechanisms to examine complaints about police interactions in Arlington. While there is not universal agreement on what kind of independent police review, if any, is appropriate in Arlington, it is the Board’s collective view that a study committee informed by a diverse set of perspectives, equipped with data and information about the experiences of comparable communities, and advised of the potential impacts of pending statewide police accountability legislation, can and should be entrusted with researching these matters and making recommendations to Town Meeting on this important issue.

It must be stressed that the Board supports this measure as parallel and complementary to the Police Chief’s development of a Chief’s Advisory Board, the quality work of the Arlington Police Department’s Professional Standards team, and related work of APD, Town staff, volunteers, community groups, and residents to advance dialogues and relationships on a range of policing issues. Moreover, neither the Board nor the Committee’s charge presupposes an outcome. Rather, it is the Board’s hope and expectation that this Study Committee will bring together representatives of dedicated stakeholders for earnest and thorough exploration of their mission to advance our understanding of the best ways for Arlington and its police department to facilitate mutual respect and shared confidence in the discharge of police duties.

Vote Language:

That Town Meeting hereby establishes a “Civilian Police Advisory Board Study Committee” to be structured, organized, and charged as follows:

Civilian Police Advisory Board Study Committee

I. Committee Membership and Organization

A. The Committee shall consist of  (17) members; two (2) of whom shall be non-voting, ex-officio members, and fifteen (15) of whom shall be voting members as follows:

i. Ex-officio members:
• A member of the Select Board or their designee to be determined by such Board for the purposes of administering the organizational meeting only; and
• The Town Counsel or their designee.


ii. Voting members:
• One (1) member of the Envision Arlington Standing Committee as determined by such commission;
• One (1) member of the Arlington Human Rights Commission as determined by such commission;
• One (1) member of the LGBTQIA+ Rainbow Commission as determined by such commission;
• One (1) member of the Disability Commission as determined by such commission;
• One (1) member of the Board of Youth Services; as determined by such Board;
• One (1) designee of the Envision Arlington Diversity Task Group co-chairs;
• One (1) member of the Council on Aging as determined by such Council;
• One (1) member of the Menotomy Manor Tenants Association as determined by such Association;
• One (1) Arlington High School student, as recommended by the AHS Principal;
• One (1) graduate of the Citizens Police Academy, to be appointed by the Chief of Police, based on the recommendation of the program coordinator;
• Three (3) Town Meeting Members, to be appointed by the Town Moderator;
• The Chief of Police or their designee; and
• The Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Coordinator or their designee.

Appointing authorities shall be encouraged to designate representatives, who reflect racial, ethnic, and other forms of diversity to be found in Arlington.

iii. Quorum
A majority of voting members shall constitute a quorum, and decisions shall be based on the vote of a simple majority of those committee members present and voting.
iv. Organization and First Meeting
The initial meeting of the Study Committee shall be convened by the designee of the Select Board, and the first order of business shall be the self-organization of the study committee through the election of one or more chairs, whose responsibility shall be to convene and preside over all future meetings, as well as a clerk, whose duties shall include the proper posting of meeting agendas and minutes. The Study Committee shall designate any other officers as it sees fit.

II. Committee Charge & Reporting
A. The Study Committee shall study the creation of alternative mechanisms for civilians to file complaints regarding police interactions, considering various models including a police civilian review board independent from the police department with the authority and resources to receive and investigate complaints. Said committee shall also review police services, examine the experience of comparable communities, and consider the potential impacts of pending legislation.
B. The Study Committee shall report its findings and any recommendations to the 2022 Annual Town Meeting, any earlier Annual or Special Town Meeting, and/or other appropriate administrative, management, or elected or appointed officials. 

III. Dissolution 
The study committee will be dissolved concurrent with the dissolution of the 2022 Annual Town Meeting, unless there is a vote of Town Meeting to effectuate an earlier dissolution or to extend the Committee’s charge. 

(5 – 0)


Select Board Report

DescriptionTypeFile Name
Finance Committee Report on Arlington Police DepartmentReference Material Finance_Committee_Report_on_Arlington_Police_Department.pdf
Amendment - C. KelleherReference Material Article6_Amend_CKelleher_9Nov2020.pdf
Amendment- E. DrayReference Material Dray_Article_6_Amendment.pdf