Salem's Community Policing Performance Audit Steering Committee.

The steering committee guiding an audit into the Salem Police Department is meeting Thursday afternoon to go over its goals and objectives, including six questions that will guide the work.

The Salem City Council called for the audit this summer following the racial justice protests that happened across the country. The audit will review the way local police officers interact with those in mental health crisis, people experiencing homelessness and BIPOC communities.

Hillard Heintze, the consulting firm hired to conduct the audit, visited Salem the week of Nov. 16 to gather perspectives from a range of  community members including those who work in addiction services and those at faith-based organizations.

The outside consultant drafted a list of six key questions that will form the basis of the audit.

They include:

1. Are the Salem Police Department’s policies and tactics aligned with the city council and communities values and expectations?

2. What is the Salem Police Department’s capacity for community policing?

3. How effective are Salem police officers in engaging with all Salem community members?

4. How effective is the Salem Police Department in engaging with youth and their families?

5. Are the Salem Police Department’s policies, tactics, or training bias or discriminatory?

6. How effective are the Salem Police Department’s policies, procedures, and practices in terms of establishing officer accountability?

The 10-member steering committee was chosen with local subject matter experts in mind, like the realms of law enforcement and social services. The committee has held two meetings so far.

The group is expected to have a report to the Salem City Council in mid-December.

Meeting details: The meeting will be streamed on YouTube on Nov. 19 at 4:30 p.m.