Opinion: Letter to the Editor: Making Herndon Welcoming to All

Opinion: Letter to the Editor: Making Herndon Welcoming to All

A group of concerned citizens in town has come together to do our part to make our community welcoming for everyone. With the ongoing national outcry about disparate policing, we want to start at home and understand how policing impacts different communities here in Herndon. The first step in this direction toward equity is the transparent collection of more granular racial policing data and its public review. Without public access to this information, we can neither rest in comfort knowing our community is free of the scourge of racial police discrimination, nor can we work to improve equity where there are gaps. Herndon has been a local leader on police transparency, instituting body cameras early on. Building on this positive trend and reviewing national and regional best practices, we have tailored a next step for our town. We are proud to report that six candidates for Herndon Town Council, across political and racial lines, have signed on to the Herndon Police Data Transparency Pledge.

The following candidates for Herndon Town Council commit to promoting public trust in our police by supporting public release of data related to police interactions with the community, such as arrests, stops, and use of force:

  • Stevan Porter, Cesar del Aguila, Clark Hedrick, Pradip Dhakal, Sean Regan, Signe Friedrichs and Naila Alam.

Among those running for Council, only Jasbinder Singh chose not to support this particular effort. Mayoral Candidate Roland Taylor is supportive of the measure. Current Vice-Mayor Sheila Olem, also a mayoral candidate, did not feel able to make the pledge due to her present elected role.

Pledge reads:

As a town councilperson committed to improving public trust, I commit to working toward a Herndon Police Department that is transparent and prioritizes the collecting and public reporting of policing data as performance measures of effectiveness. I support the following policing data best practices and annual public reporting on these practices starting in 2022:

  • Collect and report data for four sets of police interactions with the public:mDetentions (including all stops, searches, citations, and use of force incidents), Police- and resident-initiated contacts,mCivilian and internal complaints against the police,mSurveys of police-community. relations from residents and law enforcement;

  • Collect and report data on police interactions with the public by race, ethnicity, age, gender, and gender identity;

  • Monitor police interaction data at the Council level on an at least an annual basis to assess equity and effectiveness of police interactions with the public.

Join us in celebrating the fact that our elected leadership has a strong understanding of the necessity of this data transparency. We hope you will be as excited to share this hopeful news with our community as we are!

Rebecca H. Borton