Canton residents voted Monday to audit the native police division, their debate emblematic of the bitter division that has unfold via city because the demise of Boston Police Officer John O’Keefe and the homicide cost in opposition to his girlfriend, Karen Learn.
The particular city assembly article handed by a vote of 903-800 throughout a session that lasted practically 4 hours and drew a crowd so giant that it spanned a number of rooms at Canton Excessive Faculty.
The accredited movement calls in town’s chief procurement officer or designee to “proceed with an administrative, coverage, procedures and compliance evaluation of the police division.” The article outlines a $200,000 most price range for the audit, which might be carried out by an impartial consulting agency.
The vote comes amid the controversial case in opposition to Learn, who’s accused of hanging O’Keefe along with her automobile whereas dropping him off at a house in Canton in January 2022. Learn’s attorneys, nonetheless, insist that O’Keefe was really crushed and that legislation enforcement officers have engaged in a coverup to border Learn for his demise.
“I do know there’s lots of people which can be pissed off with how issues have progressed within the city, and I do know that folks got here right here for quite a lot of causes,” City Moderator Alan Hines stated as he opened Monday’s assembly. “Some persons are coming right here tonight to protest or to rally in opposition to or due to the arrest of Karen Learn. Some persons are sad with the outcomes of the final election, and a few persons are not joyful about even having to attend a particular city assembly.”
There have been frequent disruptions all through the night together with each cheers and jeers, which have been met with the sound of a banging gavel.
A number of audio system described the animus felt all through city as Learn’s case heads to trial.
“Our city is hurting and out of steadiness in methods I’ve by no means seen earlier than,” stated Tom Birmingham, one of many article’s proponents. “This actually is a recipe for battle, however it’s also a possibility for change.”
He likened the petitioners to David, the biblical determine who took down the enormous Goliath.
“Allow us to be clear: the petitioners don’t have any intention of taking down our authorities like David did to Goliath,” Birmingham stated. “They merely desire a significant, respectful alternative to be heard.”
Some audio system questioned the necessity for an audit of the Canton Police Division, noting that there’s already a system of checks and balances in place for police operations. City Accountant Kathy Butters, for instance, described present audit mechanisms in Canton and argued that the proposal was redundant and “a waste of city funds.”
Nonetheless, Finance Committee Chair Cindy Thomas stated the city’s Choose Board has already indicated its intent to proceed with a evaluation of the police division. The article, she famous, gives transparency about the price and the method transferring ahead.
In latest months, Canton residents have packed into Choose Board conferences to name for police transparency and voice their ideas on the investigation into O’Keefe’s demise. The case has additionally generated fervent hypothesis on-line amongst readers of the weblog Turtleboy, which promotes the speculation that Learn was framed. Turtleboy blogger and Holden resident Aidan Kearney is presently going through witness intimidation expenses tied to his in depth protection of Learn’s case.
“Over the previous few months, I’ve been saddened by the truth that we as Canton residents have allowed exterior influences with the intent of driving a wedge between us and our neighbors together with complete disregard for the wellbeing of our city,” Canton Choose Board Chair Thomas Theodore stated in his remarks Monday.
As the group erupted, he added: “The vitriol and hatred displayed on social media, the threatening letters and emails despatched to completely different folks, the defacing of property — this has to finish. This isn’t Canton; we’re higher than this.”
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