Davenport’s police union questioned the fairness of an upcoming policing reform discussion hosted by the Davenport Civil Rights Commission.
In a news release, Davenport Union of Professional Police Chairman Mike Greenleaf thanked the public for its support before criticizing “certain officials,” the Davenport Civil Rights Commission, and its director, Latrice Lacey.
The union’s reaction came after the seven-member Davenport Civil Rights Commission announced plans to meet on Saturday to listen to community members about the city’s policing, and hear a report from Lacey about policing reforms in other parts of Iowa and nationwide. The commission plans to make recommendations to the city council on ways to improve relations between the community and its police.
Greenleaf and the union took exception to what he called “negative and false statements being produced by certain officials is deafening to our members.”
“The false narrative surrounding police must stop being perpetuated by the opinion of spiteful individuals and must instead be evaluated by facts,” Greenleaf said in the release. “The union of Professional Police completely refutes recent statements made by the Davenport Civil Rights Commission stating that there is a ‘culture’ of mistreating minorities by our members. This is completely inaccurate and false, and again not backed by anything other than opinion.”
Greenleaf referenced comments made by DCRC Commissioner Rabbi Henry Karp, who earlier this week said he hoped the public forum could help bring change to an aspect of police culture.
“We are not looking so much at a problem of structure,” he said. “But there is a culture among some Davenport police officers who simply don’t treat people of color with the same dignity they treat white people.
“The biggest challenge will be to change the culture.”
The union's release also singled out Lacey.
“Our members would be open to a fair and factual conversation on police reform. However, the Davenport Civil Rights Commission Director Latrice Lacey to be attempting to reform our profession without seeking input from any of our members is problematic,” Greenleaf said in the release. “The Union of Professional Police does not feel as if Director Lacey can render a fair and unbiased report herself due to her previous negative interactions with the Davenport Police Department and her most-recent criminal proceeding.”
Two commission members said Mayor Matson and Police Chief Paul Sikorski were briefed about the report and the Zoom conference in advance.
Lacey is serving a one-year suspended sentence with probation on a conviction of harassment, a serious misdemeanor, which she is appealing. She still faces a retrial on three counts of domestic abuse assault, all misdemeanors. The charges stem from an alleged domestic assault in Davenport.
Lacey said she was deeply disappointed by what she called a “personal attack.”
“I want to respond as a private citizen, not in my professional capacity,” Lacey said. “Personally, I’m disappointed in the gaslighting and dismissal of concerns raised by impacted community members, the coded language, fear mongering and the overall failure of the police to understand they do not solely interact with the ‘citizens of Davenport.’
“They work as public servants to all community members who work, play and do business within the city of Davenport.”
The meeting will be held via Zoom at 10 a.m. Saturday. Anyone interested in attending can register at the Davenport Civil Rights Commission’s Facebook page, or call 563-326-7888 with questions.
Mayor Mike Matson announced the city will open city hall’s city council chambers for those who cannot participate in the Zoom meeting, but want to watch the forum. City hall is located at 226 W. 4th St. and doors will open shortly before the event.