Racial Justice Coalition wants former Asheville police officer's accreditation removed

James Lee, co-chair of Asheville's Racial Justice Coalition, said it took only a week to come up with 10 recommendations to present to the Asheville City Council in wake of a use-of-force incident involving the Asheville Police Department. (Photo credit: WLOS staff)

James Lee, co-chair of Asheville's Racial Justice Coalition, said it took only a week to come up with 10 recommendations to present to the Asheville City Council in wake of a use-of-force incident involving the Asheville Police Department.

"How do we move past the tragedy to make sure this doesn't happen again in our community?" Lee asked.

It's the question the coalition, made up of 14 local organizations, has been trying to answer since bodycam video of former Asheville police officer Chris Hickman beating and choking an unarmed man was leaked to the Asheville Citizen Times.

Hickman was arrested and charged with assault.

"Regardless of what happens in the criminal case, we don't want him, he doesn't have the right to be in that profession anymore. It's a service profession, and he clearly demonstrated he's not in the field to serve," Lee said.

The Racial Justice Coalition wants the city of Asheville to remove Hickman's police accreditation so he cannot become an officer in another community.

"If we can ensure that if you are not in the field to do what it says, to serve and protect with professionalism and integrity, then don't have the badge or gun," Lee said.

Asheville Mayor Esther Manheimer said it's the State Department of Justice, not the city, that is responsible for accrediting police officers.

However, the mayor said in the process of maintaining certification, the Department of Justice looks into any resignations and can easily find out why officer Hickman resigned.

Other recommendations from the Racial Justice Coalition include:

  • Signed consent when doing a search
  • Investigate every excessive use of force matter as criminal
  • Respond to all complaints against law enforcement within 48 hours
  • Support a bill that establishes citizen review boards with decision-making power.
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