LEWISTON — The City Council will vote on a resolution Tuesday that would commit the city to a firm timeline for purchasing body cameras for police officers, as well as implementing additional training for police and elected officials.

The resolution was drafted following a meeting between Mayor Mark Cayer and the police patrol union this week, after a union letter criticized the council’s recent resolution condemning racial profiling and excessive force by police.

The patrol union’s letter called on the city to purchase body cameras for all police personnel, as well as to attend training and ride-alongs to learn more about the department.

If approved, the resolution would direct city administration to develop “a plan for the purchase and policies governing the use of body cameras for all sworn department personnel.”

The plan would be developed in coordination with police Chief Brian O’Malley and a committee representative of all police personnel, and would be presented to the City Council for consideration no later than Dec. 31.

At the same time, the resolution states, city administration would work with O’Malley and others within the department to “evaluate the training currently provided to department personnel and to develop recommendations for additional training that would be of benefit in meeting their responsibilities and furthering their professional development.”

In response to the union’s letter, the resolution also urges elected officials to participate in several patrol ride-alongs, “Shoot/Don’t Shoot” training, or other activities over the next year “to assist in becoming familiar with how the department provides policing services to our community and the situations and circumstances that our patrol officers are required to handle.”

Earlier this week, union President Tom Murphy, a detective, said the union agreed with much of the council’s recent resolution on racial profiling and excessive force, but criticized the council for not highlighting the department’s proactive, community policing.

In response, the resolution adds a section that outlines some of that work, including “the Community Resource Team, School Resource Officer program, and volunteer efforts, including National Night Out, Lewiston’s Summer Fun and Films, the Citizens’ Police Academy, Police Athletic League, and Special Olympics, among others.”

The initial resolution, passed with a 6-1 vote earlier this month, commits the city to conduct anti-bias and de-escalation training for police personnel, expand efforts to recruit and hire individuals from minority communities, and through an ad hoc committee, review the process by which citizen complaints against police officers are investigated.

Prior to the council’s vote on the resolution, a number of people identifying themselves as Black residents said they’ve witnessed racial profiling by police in Lewiston. Councilor Safiya Khalid, who introduced the resolution, said she saw it happen to her own brother.

Several others questioned why the resolution was controversial in the first place, and implored officials to listen to the only Black councilor.

Following their meeting Monday, Cayer and Murphy said they don’t believe racial profiling to be “a pervasive” issue within the the Lewiston Police Department.

But, Murphy said, “If that is going on here and it’s discovered, then those officers would be dealt with.”

“As mayor, I take any suggestion of racial profiling seriously,” Cayer said. “Through the ad hoc committee and potentially the standing committee, we’re going to have to look at all these things. Data will drive us on many issues, to let us know who we’re stopping and why, and who we’re arresting and why.”


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.