Efforts to promote racial and ethnic equity in Asheville should include community forums focusing on traffic stop data from city police. That’s one of many recommendations a study group that’s proposing a ‘human relations commission’ in Asheville gave to city council Tuesday. That group is also asking the city to expand its Office of Equity and Inclusion from one to four employees. The current head of that office, Kimberlee Archie, was just hired last year.
The proposed human relations commission would consist of 15 members – with at least two members of any particular group apart of it so that someone is ‘not the only one’. The study group recommended that at least 6 African-Americans, 2 Latinx, 2 LGBTQ, 2-3 people between the ages of 16-25, and 2-3 people living in public housing be on the commission.
Among other recommendations offered regarding city police and public safety were promoting mutual understanding between the police department and the community, and creating "mechanisms" to educate and solicit feedback about police department policies and training. The council did not act on the report it was given Tuesday, preferring to examine more deeply all the recommendations it received before taking a vote. The power of the commission will almost certainly be a major topic of discussion, as it's unclear how much if any influence it would have on policy making. One member of the study group stepped down from her position on it before the report was released, believing the new commission would not be able to affect real change.