One of the issues on which there was broad agreement amongst the panelists and the public at the August 20 town hall meeting, including law enforcement, was the need to have video and audio surveillance in all law enforcement patrol cars and to have said surveillance in use whenever those patrol cars are on duty. The Shawnee County Sheriff's Department already has said surveillance in its patrol cars. The installation of said video and audio surveillance equipment provides a way to ensure that local law enforcement doesn't allow bias to play a part in it carrying out its work on our behalf AND a way to ensure that members of the public don't make false allegations of bias against law enforcement.
According to Topeka Police Department Captain Kirk Thompson, the TPD recently applied for $360,000 in federal funds to install the surveillance equipment, but was turned down.
It's time to make this a priority for the city of Topeka. It's time this city's governing body made it a priority.
Accordingly, below is a petition asking Topeka's mayor, city council, city manager and police chief to find funding for audio and video surveillance for TPD patrol cars. By the first of the year JFAP will present the petition, with all of the signators, to the city's governing body as a call to action.
Please sign the comment form after the petition, listing in the "name" section your name, address (including city and zip code) and phone number (with area code) or e-mail address, and indicating in the "comments" section that:
"I ask Topeka's governing body to find funding before the adoption of the next city budget in 2010 to pay for the installation and use of video and audio surveillance equipment in all Topeka Police Department patrol cars."
Justice for All People:
We All Win Working Together
Racial Profiling and Bias-Based Policing Petition
To Topeka, KS Mayor William Bunten, Topeka, KS City Councilmembers Karen Hiller, John Alcala, Sylvia Ortiz, Jack Woelfel, Larry Wolgast, Deb Swank, Bob Archer, Jeff Preisner and Richard Harmon; Topeka, KS City Manager Norton Bonaparte, and Topeka, KS Police Chief Ron Miller:
We, the undersigned, as citizens of Topeka, ask for a stop to racial profiling and bias-based policing in Topeka. According to Kansas law KSA 22-4606, “‛Racial profiling’ means the practice of a law enforcement officer or agency relying, as the sole factor, on race, ethnicity, national origin, gender or religious dress in selecting which individuals to subject to routine investigatory activities, or in deciding upon the scope and substance of law enforcement activity following the initial routine investigatory activity. Racial profiling does not include reliance on such criteria in combination with other identifying factors when the law enforcement officer or agency is seeking to apprehend a specific suspect whose race, ethnicity, national origin, gender or religious dress is part of the description of the suspect."
We, the undersigned, believe that racial profiling and bias-based policing have been shown time and again to be ineffective policing tools that, according to Amnesty International USA, “undermine law enforcement efforts” and “make us less safe” through focusing on people who ultimately have committed no crimes, and “encourages hate and undermines unity.” Additionally, racial profiling and bias-based policing break the trust between law enforcement officers and the people they are sworn to protect and serve.
We, the undersigned, as a tangible first step in arresting racial profiling and bias-based policing in Topeka, ask for video and audio surveillance equipment to be installed in all Topeka Police Department patrol cars and be in use whenever a TPD patrol car/officer is on duty. We further ask the governing body of the city of Topeka to find funding (according to TPD Captain Kirk Thompson, approximately $360,000) before the adoption of the next city budget in 2010 to pay for the installation and use of said video and audio surveillance equipment in all TPD patrol cars.