FALMOUTH — Town staff said they are committed to coming up with a plan to address systemic racism town wide.

Town Administrator Nathan Poore told the Town Council Monday that he will work on a plan with council leadership, which may include training for city staff as well as policy review, to address systemic racism in town.

“This really started with (protests) in June and I have been doing a lot of learning,” Poore said. “How do you address this? I am committed on the operations side and to do the staff trainings, and we would take look at our operational policies.”

Poore also mentioned the input from the July 8 workshop on racial disparities in Falmouth policing data, which point towards systemic bias in the town.

At that workshop, data provided by Police Chief John Kilbride showed from 2016-2019, out of 448 people arrested, 4.5% — 20 people — were Black. However, Black people make up only .1% of the town’s population.

It also showed that Black people were involved in 3.6% of all traffic stops, and 10% of the 26 instances where force was used since 2016  involved Black people.

Poore said a plan could include town-wide trainings on systemic racism, Black history and implicit bias for staff, a town-wide resolution and reworking policies that may support systemic racism, though the question remained as to what policies those would be.

I could use some (training), especially the background information,” Councilor Ted Asherman said. “I’ve learned a lot reading about biases of the lately and they certainly impact me, so I think I’d look forward to that training.”

Other councilors cited other issues that could better address systemic racism in town compared to training and increase overall diversity, focusing on Falmouth’s lack of housing options.

Councilor Jay Trickett speaks out against implicit bias training, which he says is ineffective. Instead, Trickett said, the town should focus on policies that possibly support systemic racism, like policies that promote expensive single family housing. Courtesy photo

“We’d have more diversity if we had more diverse housing options,” Councilor Jay Trickett said. “We resist rental housing in our policies for example, that makes a difference. We’ve resisted affordable housing for years. If it is the case that there is systemic racism, which I believe there is, and there is economic segregation and disparities between races from that, then it’s certainly the case that if we have policies around land use and housing and attitudes in our town that promote only single-family homes approaching $1 million in cost during a housing crisis, we will have a very segregated community. Is that something we as a council are willing to discuss, look at and talk about changing?”

Town councilors will go over a more concrete plan at their next meeting, Poore said, which will include public comment.

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