Philadelphia voters approved a ballot question that would create a Citizens Police Oversight Commission, in last year’s November General elections. Mayor Jim Kenney and City Council have now appointed a panel of individuals that will review and make recommendations to the appointing authorities; the problem I see with this is that the panel lacks Latino and Asian representation.
Most members of the Commission should be individuals of color, drawn from the city’s majority population, consisting of African Americans, Latinos, and Asians, don’t you think? In addition, women should also be appointed and representatives from the LGBTQ community; after all, members of these groups have more problems with the police than the other groups in the city. Members of the Latino community needs to make sure once the panel, with zero Asian or Latino members, finalizes and submit their choice of candidates’ names to the appointing authorities (the mayor and city council), that it is a majority of people of color. But before we get to that, we need to spread the word that the application to be selected to the Commission is now available with a closing deadline of Friday, November 5.
According to the 2020 census, Philadelphia’s population increased by 5.1%, with Latinos and Asians accounting for this increase. These two minority communities face language, cultural heritage, immigration status, and economic status issues. If you are like me, you would think that we need Asian and Latino ancestry persons on both the selection committee and the new oversight commission. Unfortunately, as Latinos, we tend to insulate ourselves and exclude ourselves from the broader Philadelphia population, affecting our potential to address police-Latino community problems. The tendency is to leave it up to Latino elected and appointed officials to speak and act for us on issues that affect the Latino population.
The panel will review and interview those who submit an application that can be found online by googling Citizen Police Oversight Commission Volunteer Application. Scroll down to find the application in both English and Spanish.
I remain optimistic that the selection panel will seriously consider the application of Rosaura Torres Thomas.