These recommendations represent the consensus reached by community members during discussions of racial equity and socioeconomic issues over the past year.
We urge all segments of the Gainesville community to do all they can to push local and state government, the business and non-profit community, and faith leaders to enact these proposals.
At the very least, we urge community members to cast their vote in the upcoming city and general elections for candidates who support making Gainesville more inclusive for all its citizens.
The so-called norm in law enforcement is no longer acceptable from the public standpoint. Over-policing in some communities has resulted in excessive law enforcement contact and arrests. While most agencies participate in racial bias and de-escalation training, there remain far too many negative interactions for the black community.
- Maintain current arrest policies and procedures post COVID-19. The current measures have resulted in fewer arrests and reduced jail populations. Keeping these practices in place will eliminate unnecessary arrest for minor offenses and reduce costs related to processing through the criminal justice system. Officers and deputies can utilize civil citations, sworn complaints and discretion in lieu of arrest.
- De-escalate during contact with calls for service. Citizens need to be treated with dignity and respect. These contacts should not be confrontational. Most people experience heightened stress during these situations, therefore officers should not add to the stress.
- Mandatory requirement that officers intervene when another officer uses physical force inappropriately or excessively. Hold deputies and officers accountable if they do not intervene to escalate.
- Reduce budgets of law enforcement. With reduction of law enforcement contact the funds could be utilized in other areas of the community such as mental health and receiving facility, education and housing.
With the School Board and Gainesville City Commission debating the funding of School Resource Officers, both the GNV4ALL education and criminal justice teams thought it important that whatever agency is selected to provide SROs follow these principles.
- SROs should be allowed to arrest students for only serious violent crimes, such as sexual battery and other forcible felonies and crimes involving guns. Whenever possible, SROs should strive to deflect students from the criminal justice system entirely or use civil citations when absolutely necessary.
- While SROs might be called upon to help break up fights or other disciplinary matters in which the safety of students are at risk, SROs should not be involved in routine disciplinary matters that involve code of conduct violations. Teachers and other school employees should be properly informed on what is a school code of conduct issue and what requires a SRO. SROs should not be involved in school disciplinary meetings in which a student admitting to offenses outside the classroom could open themselves up to criminal charges
- SROs should instead focus on building positive relationships with students. They should be used whenever possible in after-school and summer programs, youth-officer dialogues, leadership and mentoring programs, and restorative justice sessions. SROs should be trained appropriately in areas such as racial bias, trauma-informed care and restorative justice to be able to participate in these programs and to better inform their approach to students in other situations.
During team meetings with the community the most common problems identified were rental assistance and employment. Consequently, we focused discussions on opportunities that help with rent assistance, along with career/vocational training and employment.
- Identify opportunities to expand career/vocational education in the Alachua County school district. Partner with Santa Fe College to inform individuals in target areas such as the Gainesville Empowerment Zone about certification programs, internships and entrepreneurship opportunities. In addition, plan with Santa Fe College to target, train and employ hard to place community members.
- Work with housing agencies, associations and landlord boards to inform and advise renters about available assistance programs. In addition, create programs allowing tenants to volunteer and work a certain number of hours in exchange for a reduction in rent
- Local government should partner to fund K-12 free fares on the Regional Transit System.
- Local leaders should work together to expand access to health care providers who are located in east Gainesville – (32609 and 32641 zip code). Currently there is a lack of care providers located in that zip code/geographic area, which, according to the recent 2020 Alachua County Health Assessment, has an estimated population of 34,000 people. Considering other east Alachua County communities such as Waldo, Earleton and Hawthorne would add an additional 14,000 people that would be supported by these efforts. Identified care providers that be recruited include: Primary/urgent medical care with expanded hours (evening and weekend), dental care and mental health (counseling) services.
- Mobilize eligible residents to register and vote in upcoming elections.
- Use this link to get started: https://ufl.turbovote.org/?r=GNV4
- Each one teach one. If you are already registered, encourage family, friends and organizations to also register and vote.