The City should initiate an impartial, external audit by the Dept. of Justice into the Topeka Police Dept.

Topeka City Manager, City Council, and Mayor

There have been numerous communications sent to the city criticizing their response to disparities, including the violence of TPD against Black disabled people in our community, as a public health crisis. The TPD has hidden behind participation in CIT training as a way to deflect concerns about their officers' violent responses to Black community members who need mental health services and supports. At best, the two recent officer killings of Black community members points to the inadequacy of CIT training and intervention as a means to prevent these types of incidents. At worst, the TPD and officers themselves are agents of biased actions that are creating the public health crisis. Unless an external audit is conducted by the Department of Justice, the root cause can not be identified impartially and meaningful steps to improve will not be possible. The process of having a Department of Justice audit has no negative consequences if performed, yet it is costing the lives of Black and brown people to if ignored.

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To: Topeka City Manager, City Council, and Mayor
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Our community waited patiently for nearly two years while the city council's special committee reviewed the Topeka Police Departments policies only for them to neglect to provide any meaningful recommendations. Since the council concluded their process in August of 2022, there has been a drastic increase in police-involved shootings, two which were officers killing Black men that were wielding only kitchen knives. There have been police-involved shootings on more than one occasion recently involving many officers shooting many bullets into areas where bystanders were in direct proximity, though not involved in the incident. These actions put citizens at risk.
It is also important to note, in the last three months, officers have detained without discharging their firearms, at least three white men who were threatening officers, and others, with lethal weapons such as swords and machetes. The timing of the drastic change in negligent police response is not only highly suspicious, but predictable.
This should be highly concerning to everyone including the Topeka Police Department, the City Manager, the Mayor, and the City Council. We are calling on these authorities to begin the process of a thorough external audit by the Department of Justice into the Topeka Police Departments operations. A review of this nature would be standard in any workplace where an unhealthy situation has been created for both the employees and the employer. This is of critical importance as it involves the entity that is beholden to a code of ensuring public safety and is dependent on the public's trust to function effectively. It is imperative to identify the systemic issues that have improperly prepared police officers to equitably and confidently respond to crisis situations involving Black and brown citizens in distress without killing them. This is a public health crisis with deadly results for Black and brown people in our community.

We are standing as a united community voice to demand immediate actions be taken by the city to request a review and inquiry from the Department of Justice on the Topeka Police Department policing and practices.