MANSFIELD -- An agreement in principle has been reached between the City of Mansfield and local groups on a "Code of Conduct" between police officers and members of the community.
Alomar Davenport, the 4th Ward City Council representative, and Safety-Service Director Lori Cope confirmed the agreement on Friday afternoon.
Davenport and leaders of organizations like We ACT, VOCAL (Voices of Change, Activism and Leadership), the North End Community Improvement Collaborative, the Black and Brown Coalition and local Black ministers met with city leaders for a second time Thursday.
"The city administration was 90 percent in agreement with what we presented to them (June 18)," Davenport said. "We agreed to some changes. We now have an agreement in principle to implement a code of conduct here in Mansfield that will be a guideline for interaction between members of the police department and the community."
Davenport said Cope, police Chief Keith Porch and leaders of the police unions have all agreed and that he and the other leaders are now in the process of reworking parts of the code.
Davenport said another meeting is tentatively planned for July 9. Once the revised document gains approval, he said, it will be presented to the public.
"We want to get this out to the community, because we are going to ask them to buy into this code of conduct, also," he said. "It's a two-way agreement (between police and residents). We don't want to dictate to the community. We want the community's insight and input."
Davenport said some parts of the code concern what happens when people have been restrained by police, what documents can be used to provide identification and how descriptions are used by officers in identifying potential suspects, as well as deescalation tactics when possible.
Cope said many of the goals sought by the local groups were already in place through the city's civilian police review commission, police department policies and disciplinary processes.
"We are in agreement," she said. "One of our goals now as part of this is to educate the community on what to do when contacted by a police officer."
Davenport said he hoped to have an event by the end of July during which the city and police leaders, joined by leaders of the organizations, could publicly sign the new code of conduct.
The agreement comes after Davenport, joined by leaders of other local organizations, began a conversation with the police and public following his own car stop by police last summer, an event that led to officers drawing their guns.
That encounter led to a pair of community meetings, including one in North Lake Park on Oct. 8 that included Porch and Cope, among others.
The COVID-19 pandemic slowed down work by groups on the project, though the death of George Floyd by Minneapolis police a month ago created a greater sense of urgency, Davenport said.
"It's a guideline as to how the community should be interacting with police officers and how police officers should be interacting with the community," Davenport said, adding the plan is modeled after a 2017 agreement between the City of Toledo and a coalition of groups representing people of color in that northwest Ohio city.