To The Community Safety Review Committee- An Apology From Me

Today I am writing to offer an apology to The Community Safety Review Committee, and all who have been involved in their work at any level.

I would like to do so by speaking about the first Municipal Diversity and Inclusion class I participated in early on in my time on the board. Within about the first five minutes of the class, we were told by the instructor, that we were about to learn that “being fair” doesn’t mean “treating the same” and that “equal” does not mean “equitable. The rest of the session discussed the importance of raising up voices who have less power within our systems and structures to level the playing field.

Unfortunately, we forgot that training when setting the date for the topic of Police Policies and Procedures. We missed an opportunity to change the game.

Had we stayed within the spirit of that training, we would have scheduled a meeting centered around Chief Fitzgerald and Captain Carignan’s presentations after the Community Safety Review Committee presented. While I fully appreciated and was interested in the presentation, it was admittedly, not the right time.

My apology also comes with the realization that I felt comfortable with the “norm” (interrogating a specific Department outside of their budget presentation) and failed to see the harm that doing so caused. I felt “fine” with business as usual-power and privilege speaking first. This is a good example of intention versus impact.

Those of us in positions of power, need to take a second look before sticking to norms such as this, to be sure there will not be an adverse impact, regardless of intention. We must make sure we do not continue to perpetuate systemic power imbalances which serve to create less desire to come to the table, less trust in us as a Board and as a Municipality, and worse so, do nothing to heal the pain caused by our systems.

Stepping outside of norms is an ever evolving process. I can’t promise to be perfect, but I will learn from this mistake, and would like to reaffirm my deep Commitment to fully hearing the data, testimonies, and recommendations from the Community Safety Review Committee.

I am once again reminded to read my own email signature: ~”Well intentioned people often perpetuate systems of inequality without malice, but with full effect.”-Maliq Matthew

Comments | 2

  • Huh?

    I do not understand this apology. Is Brandie Starr saying that Chief Fitzgerald and Captain Carignan’s presentations were not open to the public?

    And if those presentation were not open to the public, then who was permitted to attend? Was the Open Meeting Law violated?

  • Thank you, Brandie

    Brandie, your humility, and your willingness to examine your behaviors and practices in the framework of equity and fairness, is an inspiration.

    As such, I hope it inspires some of your fellow Selectboard members to engage in similar self-reflection.

    I am convinced a few of them either skipped the Municipal Diversity and Inclusion class you attended, didn’t think it applied to them, or simply never absorbed its message.

    Or, maybe they really don’t give a rat’s ass about raising up the voices of those who are left out of policy decisions — the voices of the people most harmed by these decisions. Maybe they are just fine with the norms that retain and strengthen the current power-imbalances and privileges.

    During the next Selectboard reorganization, please come back as Chair! Now, perhaps more than ever, the people of this town need your leadership.

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