Statement of City Manager Craig Owens
On behalf of the City of Clayton, City Manager Owens releases statement regarding July 7th incident.
STATEMENT OF CITY MANAGER CRAIG OWENS
CITY OF CLAYTON
July 19, 2018
On behalf of the City of Clayton, I share this statement.
Today, Chief Murphy and I met with several of the Washington University students who were involved in the July 7 incident with the Clayton Police. Earlier this week, along with Mayor Sanger, we also met with Chancellor Wrighton and his staff. I appreciate his leadership in facilitating these conversations. The dialogue today, especially, has been transforming.
The interaction with the students today was emotionally powerful. We left with a much better understanding of how the students were feeling the night of July 7 and what it is like to be a young African-American who is confronted by the police. We, and Mayor Sanger, hope we are better people and intend to be better leaders because of the experience.
In hindsight, it is clear to us that we mishandled the interaction with these 10 Washington University students and lacked sensitivity about their everyday reality because of how racial bias affects their lives. For that, on behalf of the City of Clayton, we sincerely apologize.
Our police department has a duty to protect the businesses and citizens of Clayton, including the Washington University students who reside here. We intend to honor that duty. We understand, however, that what is at question is how we go about doing that. On July 7, with these 10 students, we did not carry out our duty in a way that demonstrates we act without bias.
This is an opportunity for the city to learn and do better. To do so, in response to the conversations we have had with university students and leaders and what we have heard from other members of the university community, we will immediately take the steps outlined below.
We will close by just sharing how extremely impressed we are by these Washington University students. We are grateful that they have been willing to share their experience and their perspective. They came to Washington University to change the world and they have already done so. My promise to them is that we will work very hard to restore the confidence of these newest Clayton residents and ensure that they are safe and welcome in Clayton.
The Path Forward
- First, Chief of Police Murphy will complete his investigation underway into the details of the events from the time the department received the call from the restaurant to the time the students made their way back to campus. We have asked for that investigation to be completed as quickly, and as thoroughly, as possible. We will also invite a third party in to examine our policies and procedures and expand our training programs in implicit bias for all our officers. We will share what we learn publicly and use the results to identify areas where we can be more sensitive and aware.
- Our police department will be conducting more regular and more intensive training focused on racial sensitivity and how to enhance it in carrying out our duty to serve. When possible, we will coordinate those exercises with the Washington University Police Department, so we can benefit from the extensive work they have done in this area and they also can benefit from the additional training.
- We anticipate the introduction of body cameras later this year, a program for which we have received grant funding. This will provide accountability and a tool for coaching positive interaction techniques.
Finally, we have suggested to Washington University that we spend even more time listening to members of the Washington University community. We would like for the city and our police department to have an ongoing dialogue about relations between our police and the community we serve, and the reality and impact of bias and discrimination in our everyday lives. If surrounding jurisdictions would like to join us, all the better.