A citizen committee has been created in the aftermath of an Olympia police shooting.
The Ad Hoc Committee on Police and Community Relations will hold its first meeting at 5 p.m. Wednesday at Garfield Elementary School’s multipurpose room, 325 Plymouth St. NW. The meeting will focus on operations and process.
Mayor Stephen Buxbaum and Mayor Pro Tem Nathaniel Jones launched the committee in June, a few weeks after a white Olympia police officer shot two black men following a shoplifting call and alleged assault.
The May 21 incident has sparked protests and concerns about police procedures in Olympia. The Thurston County prosecutor is expected to issue a decision in the coming weeks on whether criminal charges will be filed.
The new committee is intended to provide a range of public comments and develop educational opportunities related to police technology, restorative justice and more.
Five community leaders along with Olympia police Lt. Aaron Jelcick, who oversees the downtown walking patrol, were asked to serve on the committee. Here is a brief description of each community member, according to the city:
▪ Reiko Callner, a local attorney and human rights activist. She is the Olympia Chapter president of the Japanese American Citizens League and works as executive director of the Washington State Commission on Judicial Conduct. She volunteers on the city’s Civil Service Commission, which considers a range of personnel matters in the Olympia police and fire departments. Callner wrote the city’s hate-crimes ordinance and co-founded the anti-hate organization Unity in the Community.
▪ Kerensa Mabwa, community engagement coordinator for Garden Raised Bounty (GRuB), a nonprofit organization that promotes community gardens and works with youths in the area. She has 20 years of experience working in the nonprofit field, including parenting and child welfare, affordable housing, project evaluation, fundraising and management.
▪ Curt Pavola, program manager at the state Department of Natural Resources since 2000. He previously worked for the Association of Washington Cities. In January 2000, he was appointed to fill a vacancy on the Olympia City Council and was elected to a four-year term the next year. He has worked for political campaigns at the local, state and national level and has been an advocate on behalf of the LGBT community.
▪ Clinton Petty, a trustee and director of operations for Risen Faith Fellowship Church in Olympia. Petty is a Vietnam veteran and a retired Army division’s command sergeant major. He retired from state service in 2001 after serving as director of operations for the Employment Security Department and director of the unemployment insurance program. During his career with the state, Petty received a distinguished manager award from two governors.
▪ Alejandro Rugarcia, board member and employee at the Olympia Food Co-op. The Mexico City native immigrated to the United States and became a citizen in 2009. He has a master’s degree in public administration from The Evergreen State College and worked for nonprofit organizations including SafePlace. He has taught Spanish- language programs for local elementary-school students.
The committee will meet at least five times in the next six months, and some meetings will include the Olympia City Council, Buxbaum said. All meetings will be open to the public, with some opportunities for comment. A website will be established this month as a place for the public to submit comments, Buxbaum said.
“It’s not a light thing to take on as a citizen to sign up for such a task,” Buxbaum said at last week’s council meeting. “These are outstanding individuals.”
Want to go?
What: Ad Hoc Committee on Police and Community Relations meeting.
When: 5 p.m., Wednesday.
Where: Garfield Elementary School’s multipurpose room.