Chief Rausch discusses community outreach
By Mike Steely
The Knoxville Police Advisory and Review Committee met in its quarterly public session Thursday evening at the Knox County Education Association on Magnolia Avenue and Police Chief David Rausch responded to several questions from the committee and the public including questions about wrecker services, police and public relations, and shootings.
Rausch responded to a question from committee member Jered Croom and said that wrecker service inside the city is under the auspices of the Wrecker Committee which sets regulations and fees for authorized companies. He added that other wrecker services may respond to a customer call and may charge whatever they wish.
He also said that private vehicles parked on the streets may only be there for 24 hours and can be removed by an authorized wrecker. He said that removal often comes after complaints by citizens or as noted by an officer.
He was asked about “Terry Stops” by police. The terry stops are brief detention by an office of someone that may be involved in a crime and often involve a pat down. He said that any terry stop is required to be documented by the officer along with the reason for the contact.
During the public forum portion of the meeting, Rausch was asked about “mistrust between the community and the police department” and what is being done about it.
Rausch described many programs and activities his department is taking part in including sponsoring a lacrosse team, providing a Safe Haven summer program, recruiting for the Police Academy, sponsoring a literacy class with the Boys & Girls Club and supplying school resource officers at the middle and high schools.
“I encourage all my command staff to be involved in the community and serve on many boards myself,” he said, adding that each neighborhood association also has an assigned liaison officer.
Rausch noted that homicides have increased last year and that the state legislature’s passing of a bill to allow guns in cars has become a problem. He said the department is concerned about the Morningside neighborhood and an additional effort is underway there.
“We’re not trying to harass anyone,” he said, adding that warnings in the neighborhood are being issued in many cases rather than arrests for minor offenses.
Rausch also said the police department is working with churches to get more mentors.
The mother of a recently murdered man was passionate in her questions to the committee and Chief Rausch. She said the police department is not staying in touch with the families of murder victims beyond the initial incidents. Rausch replied that the department has an “active homicide case file” and directions from him to stay in touch.
Another victim’s family member raised a similar question asking, “What is an Angel Mom supposed to do?”
“I’m tired of sitting back, there have been two murders in two days,” the lady said.
Rausch also spoke about use of police cameras and said that his department is one of a few in the nation that keep the “background” running when patrolling. He said when an officer leaves the vehicle and turns his microphone on the video also begins. He said that procedure is required during any public contact.
PARC Director Clarence L. Vaughn III and various committee members gave their reports and reported that last year there were 86 complaint cases reviewed. Forty-nine were resolved by the director, four by mediation with the police department, thirteen referred to an appropriate agency, nineteen resolved by the KPD and only two cases pending.
Of those complaints last year 43% involved African Americans and 57% involved white citizens.
Failure to investigate or injustice in investigations accounted for 11% of the complaints, 10% were complaints of excessive force, 17% involved unbecoming or unprofessional conduct, 7% were for wrongful citations or arrest and 5% were for racial profiling. Complaints against other agencies or from citizen advocates accounted for 29% of the complaints.
PARC is made up of appointed citizens who review complaints against the KPC. These members include Chairperson Rosa Mar, Jered Croom, LaKenya Middlebrook, Frank Shanklin, Robert Gibson, Robbie Arrington, Ann Barker and Director Clarence Vaughn III. Other members include Chief Rausch, Attorney Ron Mills and Avice Reid, Senior Director of Community Relations.
Anyone wanting more information can find PARC on the internet or call Director Vaughn at (865) 215-3869.