Gloria Taylor tells Police Director Carl Riley she wants an investigationAn otherwise routine agenda-fixing session Monday turned into a rehash of Taylor's campaign to probe police policies and culture, though other council members demurred. Taylor complained that Council President Cory Storch has refused to put a resolution for an investigation on the agenda even though the entire council supported it in March, As president, Storch has the right to omit a resolution. He said Monday "No, I do not want to do an investigation,"
Storch said he heads a nonprofit organization that is working in partnership with Union County officials to provide counseling for people returning to the community from prison, which he called "one piece of the puzzle."
Councilwoman Tracey Brown said she did not like the word "investigation."
"A better word would be 'review,' " she said, though Corporation Counsel David Minchello said wording in the city's charter only allows the governing body to hire an attorney for an investigation. .
Councilman Barry Goode said he had a problem with the word "investigation."
"When you use that word, it's poison," he said.
Councilwoman Rebecca Williams had earlier reported that an accreditation process for the Police Division was 90 percent complete, needing only an onsite review that was expected to take place early in 2017. As the discussion went on, she read aloud the March resolution, which calls for hiring an attorney at $150 per hour, not to exceed $20,000
Williams said she didn't think an investigation was feasible, nor did it warrant spending the taxpayers' money.
Councilwoman Diane Toliver said she has seen an increase in community policing in her ward, with officers interacting with residents.
"I believe that's is where it has to start," she said.
Overall, Taylor appeared to come up short with support for an investigation.
Police Director Carl Riley responded to Taylor's insistence on an investigation by citing an overall decrease in crime, seizure of 111 illegal guns. the success of a police mentoring program for young people, commitment to "Fair and Impartial Policing" in conjunction with other police departments and the Union County Prosecutor's Office and the use of new body cameras which resulted in more than a 50 percent drop in citizen complaints against the police.
Regarding the homicides, Riley said, "Our hearts go out to all of the victims' family members and friends."
He noted two arrests and said he could not comment on other ongoing investigations.
"We are still in need of the community's assistance in obtaining information," Riley said, offering a crime hotline at (908) 654-TIPS.
Councilwoman Bridget Rivers told Riley he is doing a great job, but she deplored the recent "spike of murders."
"We have to something a little more,'' she said. "'It's seven. It's seven, It's seven."
Riley said he had spent 16 years in Homicide.
"Nobody knows how it feels more than me," he said. "Homicides - sometimes you just can't prevent them."