Rockland PD received 94 mental health complaints this year, most from the same individuals

Rockland Police Review Committee granted extension despite opposition

Tue, 09/13/2022 - 3:30pm

    ROCKLAND — Despite frustrations from the new Rockland Police Chief and an opinion of opposition by one of the very members, the Rockland Police Review Committee has been granted an extension for another three months.

    As the one-year deadline approaches for the ad hoc committee, Rockland City Council voted 3-2 on Monday, Sept. 12, to grant another three months.

    A year ago, the Rockland residents on the committee were tasked with asking questions, researching the ways Rockland PD does its business compared to other law enforcement agencies, and then present findings and suggestions to the public.

    Councilor Nate Davis, who acted as liaison for the committee, told Council that he had suggested to the group on multiple occasions prior to the year’s deadline to interact and provide findings to the public. However, the group declined.

    Monday’s vote now allows the group more time to generate their findings as a way of completing what they started.

    One member, Emily Emmott, happened to attend the Monday vote, held via Zoom, and was asked her opinion of the extension.

    “I am not in favor,” said Emmott. “We have hired the best chief possible and I think that we need to give him his head and let him do the work that he was hired to do.”

    When asked if she thought a report would come – if the committee were allowed an extension – she said there was a possibility, however she stated reservation of the solidarity of the report.

    “There are very different opinions on the committee itself,” she said. “There will be recommendations, but there will be dissents as well.”

    Throughout the life of the committee, there was no established Chair, membership changed, and sometimes not enough people attended, resulting in an inability to meet quorum.

    Chief Tim Carroll listed to the committee, and repeated to Council, a long list of outreach programs, collaborations, trainings, and other proactive steps already taken by the department or established by the Chief while he was sheriff of Knox County. However, of the three Review Committee meetings that Carroll attended, Committee members kept circling back to the same one question: how can we do a better job of – as Carroll described it – “almost promoting” getting complaints against Rockland police officers; how do we make that process more accessible?

    Carroll responded by saying that mental health needs to be addressed. The PD needs help with community policing. There’s a need to reach the juvenile population.

    “That’s where our problems are,” he said.

    Rockland PD received 94 mental health complaints this year, according to Carroll, and most were concerning the same individuals. There were 113 juvenile complaint problems.

    “Those are the resources that we need to help them,” he said. “The answer is not arresting, which I’m fine with – especially coming from the jail side. ‘Don’t fill up the jails. Don’t fill up Long Creek.’ I’m fine with that. But give us some resources. Allow us the opportunity to help these kids.”

    Carroll said he’s had 34 Use-of-Force complaints and yet zero complaints against officers. When he walks Main Street, people tell him how professional RPD is.

    “It’s hard and it’s frustrating for the staff, as well as myself, to hear ‘how can we almost promote to get complaints against police officers,’” he said….“I think I’m already moving forward with what is needed versus holding back, waiting for a report that focuses on looking for a solution for a problem that doesn’t exist.”

    Councilors Nicole Kalloch and Louise MacLellan-Ruf voted against the extension, stating that further committee meetings would be a distraction. However, Councilors Nate Davis, Sarah Austin, and Mayor Ed Glaser spoke of the need for completion of the assignment by way of a report of compiled results.

    “Of course, some of this is my fault in terms of who was appointed to the committee, and whether or not I rode roughshod over them to make sure that they were really developing a plan at the end,” said Glaser. “But I do think that we owe our volunteers, even if they just agree to some level of completion of their practice. Pulling the rug out at the last minute doesn’t seem to be the way to say thank you.”

     

    Reach Sarah Thompson at news@penbaypilot.com