9 thoughts on “LETTER: Resident Dissatisfied by Public Safety Committee Process, Endorses Council Candidate & Charter Changes

  1. Dear Aravinda,
    I salute your speaking up about the important issue of racism. However I see so many problems with your understanding of the situation. First is your assumption based on misunderstood data. Your assumption of “Black folks were arrested by WPD at a rate 5-6 times the proportion of Black people living in this town. Specifically, Black people make up 2.0% of the Watertown population, but in 2019, 12.8% of residents arrested by WPD were Black. This is a clear reason to review how racial bias is operating in WPD, but rather than take this concern seriously” is wrong. You are completely ignoring that these arrests were likely related to people who did not live in Watertown. It is a statistic without connection to police conduct and you should know better.
    An important understanding about racism over looked by most people is that racism is not so much about skin color as it is about the phenomenon of assumptions and habitual thinking. This can occur with color but it also often about how people talk, how old they are, how they smell etc. In fact I would guess you have a bias (or assumption) about police officers. This too is a kind or racism. I would ask that you show more of an open mind as you ask for one in return. Racism is not just white to black, It’s a way of thinking, it’s habitual assumptions and this happens in most of us and we ALL need to train ourselves to recognize it and resist it when it arises. We all must practice less assumptions and more openness. After all we are all family with only one world to share… Well unless your an Elan M or Jeff B
    David Aitcheson

    • The statistics cited were for arrests of Watertown residents only. The Chief said that a significant number were for domestic offenses (which police are required under state law to make an arrest) and serious charges such as fire arms and drug related charges. The total number of arrests for one of the years examined was 14, and 6 were domestic and 4 were serious offenses.

      You can read the story in that meeting here https://www.watertownmanews.com/2021/03/16/conversation-begins-about-current-watertown-police-services-proposed-reforms-new-programs/

      • The number of arrests for black residents was actually very small but of course they were manipulated by the anti/police groups to fit their agenda. There were approximately 1000 black residents living in Watertown in the last few years and 14 were arrested in one year of the data provided. That’s not an alarming amount. As Charlie stated at least 6 were for domestic violence, 4 were serious charges and the others possibly warrants. How is this a problem for people?

  2. I appreciate your thoughtful letter—it’s obvious you are in the middle of these issues. I agree with many of your points. As a charter committee member this year and someone who has also been very frustrated by the pace of change that our Town Councilors accomplish, I want to remind you that our town councilors are basically volunteers. They get paid very little and put an inordinate amount of time into the job. They have also not had any admin support which is ridiculous with the many different pressures and issues in Watertown. I am really glad that we were able to offer them the ability to hire support in the new charter and hope that the charter changes pass. There are also some incentives to help increase resident participation and we attempted to increase routes to better transparency and accountability. Hiring a new Town Manager is pivotal.
    Meanwhile, whoever you vote for, I hope you will continue to speak out and be involved. Participation in our local government is really needed.

  3. I’ve asked the question what does 12.8% of 2% equal. The only taker was Daniel D’amico turns out as him & I were exchanging texts he really enjoys math & numbers. So he divided it out & came to the conclusion of the number is 1 [one] that’s it. thanked him for his response, I was very impressed by him personally of his passion.

  4. Statistical analysis may not be my strongest skill but I’m sure there is something wrong with the comment above that tries to say that it’s significant what 12.8% of 2% equals. It’s a simple arithmetic question but it’s absolutely irrelevant to the important matters raised by Aravinda Ananda’s letter. She wrote, “Black people make up 2.0% of the Watertown population, but in 2019, 12.8% of residents arrested by WPD were Black.” What I take from that statement is that the proportion of residents arrested who are Black is about six times greater than the proportion of residents who are Black, and that the reason for the disproportion needs to be understood. It’s like saying that 2% of the apples for sale at Stop & Shop are macintosh, while 12.8% of the apples bought there are macs. That tells me that macintosh apples are selected disproportionately to their presence on the shelves, but you can’t know from that how many macs were bought or why they were picked so often — or why the other apples were disproportionately given a pass. To get back to the serious question of the arrest numbers, I think Watertown’s population in 2019 was about 32,000, but I don’t know the number of people arrested then, so the statistic won’t tell me how many Black residents were arrested, only that the rate at which they were arrested wasn’t what you’d expect if skin color had no correlation with the rate of arrests. Correlation isn’t causation but given the experience of our country, why skin color correlates with the chances of being arrested is worth looking into, even if your own personal experience with the police has been entirely positive and regardless of whether you support Lisa Feltner for District B town councilor or not.

  5. What is truly troubling here is not the possibility of an unusual level of racial bias by the WPD. That remains an open question. What is troubling is that the evidence that suggests there might be such a problem — the 6x rate of arrests — was *pointedly* dismissed without investigation. The WPD response alone was regarded as sufficient.

    It appears as if much of the disparity results from arrests for domestic violence. I know from a friend’s personal experience that there are unstable partners who will call in a false report of domestic abuse. So there absolutely are cases where the decision to make an arrest for domestic violence becomes a judgment call on the part of the police. Is there racial bias (even unconscious) on the part of the the WPD in responding to these calls? Would it surprise anyone if a Black man’s denial of violence (accompanied by a lack of evidence of same, of course) were less likely to be believed than the same denial from a White man?

    An examination of all reports of calls about alleged domestic violence could answer these questions. That neither the police nor Councilor Feltner thought this was worth doing, and that Feltner was so sure of this that she reneged on her promise to hear evidence from the community and let the police answer it with an assumption of lack of bias, is unacceptable.

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