FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. — Knowing where local elected leaders stand on police use of force and using the power of your vote are key to implementing genuine police reform – that’s what local activists in Fayetteville have learned from their experiences forming a local task force to push for changes to its police department.
Retired combat veteran Kathy Greggs is co-founder and president of the Fayetteville Police Accountability Community Task Force. She said most people aren’t aware that elected officials, such as district attorneys, hold serious sway in how police departments operate.
“That includes your city council members, your county commissioners, but your DA has the most power,” Greggs said. “Your DA determines your sentencing, your arrest, your time in jail, your bond, and everything.”
Greggs said one part of the solution would be to implement oversight boards in local areas, which would work to ensure police departments hire diverse officers, and would monitor use of force and independently address allegations of misconduct.
Greggs said a lot of the work to be done on police reform will start from the ground up, with regular citizens getting involved – and not from a top-down hierarchy.
“So we must make sure we understand who holds the power. But we as a people must take the power back,” she said. “We can’t allow the people that we put in offices to get paid when they are not assisting the citizens and listening to their cry.”
She also said practices such as cash bail, which disproportionately affect communities of color and low-income communities in counties across the state, need to be addressed alongside issues of police brutality.
Reporting by North Carolina News Connection in association with Media in the Public Interest and funded in part by the Park Foundation.