Dear Readers,

The crucial question (posed by councilmember Doug Barry) is, does this threaten the safety or well-being of any Takoma Park resident?
Er, . . . . no. came the answer (in essence) from Chief Ronald Ricucci

So, what’s the big deal about the TP Police Department losing its accreditation?

It was Topic Number One at the April 7 City Council meeting, The mayor brought it, and the chief, up first thing during the Council Comment segment. The chief told a long story about it. The short version is that due to the transition between chiefs, the transition between employees whose job it is to track accreditation issues, the addition of criteria by the accreditation agency, and the TPPD’s discovery of those additional criteria too late to fully meet them, they decided to opt out of accreditation this year.

* * * *
There has been some buzz about an attempted cover up of the loss, but the Mayor assured citizens “nobody was trying to keep this quiet, and I apologize if that’s how it appeared to be.” He said the council had not discussed it at length and had been planning to deal with it during the upcoming budget sessions when the police department budget was being reviewed.

Doubtless, these explanations and apologies will have no effect on the nattering nabobs of negativity on the Takoma Voice community discussion list where this issue first publicly erupted. There, fewer than a half-dozen list-members, frequent critics of the city and police force, have been working themselves into a state of high alarm about this.

Your Gilbert yawns and moves on.

If you want to get alarmed about something, Dear Readers, get alarmed by how much council meeting time is taken up interviewing potential members of citizen’s committees. Why is it necessary to bring these volunteer citizens before the council? The same thing happens every time. The potential committee members are introduced by a current committee member, the councilmembers ask “why do you want to do this?”, the applicant tells them how long she or he has lived in the city, how his or her children benefitted from living here but now they are older so she or he has more time to volunteer, what his or her work or interest is that qualifies her or him for the committee, how tickled pink she, he, or it is to live in this wonderful city and how “I just want to give something back.”

Then the council has to tell them how wonderful they are for volunteering and how valuable the (insert name here) committee is to the community because of all the work it does on the (insert a list of committee accomplishments here). At which point the currently serving committee members remind the council of any accomplishments they left out.

Really, all the council needs to ask is two questions: “Are you breathing?” and “Do you expect to continue breathing for a year or so more?” This could be done in writing – on a VERY SIMPLE form. Nobody would have to get all dressed up to appear before the council (hmmm, the goddess-motif dress, the tie-dyed t-shirt, or the pants-suit?), and nobody would have to memorize those lists of committee accomplishments.

Speaking of the police, Your Gilbert noted a Gazette article reporting that a 31 year old Sliver Spring resident, a Montgomery County substitute teacher, died in police custody after being tasered. He was arrested for walking on the side of an interstate highway and resisting arrest.

You may recall, Dear Readers, that the Takoma Park Police Department received the council’s permission to purchase (with grant money) enough tasers to fully arm the force. You may also recall Your Gilbert’s post on the matter in which we quoted Amnesty International, “The degree of tolerable risk involving Tasers, as with all weapons and restraint devices, must be weighed against the threat posed. It is self-evident that Tasers are less injurious than firearms where officers are confronted with a serious threat that could escalate to deadly force. However, the vast majority of people who have died after being struck by Tasers have been unarmed men who did not pose a threat of death or serious injury when they were electro-shocked. In many cases, they did not appear to have posed any significant threat at all”.

-Your Gilbert

About the Author

Gilbert is the pseudonym of a hard-bitten, hard-drinking, long-time Takoma Park resident who maintains the granolapark blog. Gilbert and William L. Brown — Granola Park's mild-mannered chief of staff, researcher, and drink pourer — have never been seen in the same place at the same time.

1 Comment on "Inaccredable!"

  1. Elizabeth Forbes Wallace | April 13, 2008 at 3:13 pm |

    At the meeting, when Mayor Williams asked City Manager Barbara Matthews, a Virginia resident, if she had any words on the subject, she immediately deferred to the police chief. The focus immediately shifted to the him. That was a very effective but subtle technique to take the spotlight off her. Perhaps it is because she does not have a lot of, or perhaps she has NO experience in assuring that our city is accredited.
    Before coming to Takoma Park, she served for 18 years as a city administrator in Manchester, MO which, according to CALEA’s website, is not accredited. She also served in Kansas City MO and Kirkwood — which are also not currently accredited. Gladstone is, but received its initial accreditation in 2000, after Ms. Matthews’ tenure there. Hmmmm.
    There is a phrase I used while running my own business for 29 years: Inspect what you expect. If you don’t expect accreditation, you don’t inspect for it.
    The buck ALWAYS stops at the top of any organization — with the city manager, the mayor and the city council. Inspect what you expect. Never just take someone’s word for it.
    [Gilbert here – we feel we should note that Ms Wallace, the author of this comment, addressed the council April 7 concerning “Look Up! The StarryTelling Festival,” an educational program she produced that was to be held in Takoma Park this June. The program had to be canceled. In her remarks to the council she placed the blame on bureaucratic errors, and specifically on the city manager Barbara Matthews. The mayor, while expressing regret over the loss of the festival, took issue with what he called a personal attack on the city manager.]

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