By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Newtown Florist Club to hold follow-up event on progress made in policing reform
07032020 CONVERSATION 2.jpg
The Rev. Rose Johnson, executive director of the Newtown Florist Club, speaks at the beginning of the club’s open-air conversation Thursday, July 2. The event brought members of law enforcement and the criminal justice system to address community concerns and potential reform. - photo by Nick Watson

To keep the momentum from the summer’s open-air conversations going, the Newtown Florist Club is hosting a follow-up event Monday, Oct. 12, to discuss the progress made on its recommendations to law enforcement regarding community policing.

“What we want to do is to just make sure we fulfill our commitment to let people know and continue to educate the community about what it was we did discuss and put forward,” said the Rev. Rose Johnson, the club’s executive director.

The club held two open-air conversations over the summer, the first letting community members share concerns with law enforcement and the judiciary. Police and court officials were able to share their concerns at the second event.

Join the conversation

What: Newtown Florist Club Public Policy Committee’s community conversation

When: 6 p.m. Monday, Oct. 12 

People wanting to register for the Zoom call can call the club at 770-718-1343 or email at

The recommendations presented to law enforcement were:

• Body cameras for all officers interacting with the public, “establish discipline” for officers who make an arrest without body camera footage and make all use-of-force body camera footage public

• A citizen oversight committee to review use-of-force incidents when the arrestee is harmed

• Ban no-knock warrants

• Ban chokeholds and establish penalties for officers violating the policy

• More training on de-escalation, with the recommendation being one to two hours annually

• Prioritizing minority hiring

• No more military gear to law enforcement

• Requiring officers to intervene “when they knowingly witness and contribute to another officer’s violation of law enforcement policy”

• End of civil forfeiture, a process by which property seized during a criminal investigation can later be sold at auction and fund law enforcement agencies

• Requiring law enforcement to provide identifying information and a card with instructions on filing a complaint

• Protocols on eliminating “unconscious bias and racial profiling”

• Encouraging patrol officers to “use discretion when making traffic stops to limit arrests”

• End “criminalization of poverty,” which includes policies regarding urban camping, panhandling and cash bail. They also request hiring social workers and mental health partnerships to assist in calls for service, as well as having court fines and fees on an income-based sliding scale

• Making statistics on training, use of force, arrests and other information publicly accessible.

Since the meetings, Gainesville Police Chief Jay Parrish said he has committed to tripling the amount of training on de-escalation, and both Parrish and Hall County Sheriff Gerald Couch said they would like to have citizen-and-police panels that would meet somewhat regularly.

Johnson said law enforcement and court officials will be invited to listen in to the conversation. The club also wants to listen and respond to community input and feedback.

The open-air events were sparked by the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, two people who were killed during police interactions. 

Floyd’s death in May became international news after a video circulated showing a police officer’s knee on his neck. One of the officers was charged with second-degree murder.

Taylor, an emergency medical worker, was shot multiple times March 13 by officers who entered her Louisville home during a narcotics investigation.

A Kentucky grand jury indicted one police officer last month for shooting into neighboring apartments but did not move forward with charges against any officers for their role in Taylor’s death.

The Taylor case will be part of the conversation but not central to it, as there is a criminal justice roundtable set later to discuss the case.

Johnson said it is vital for communities not to miss the opportunity to focus on problems highlighted in these national cases to prevent them from happening locally.

“We have to take advantage of these moments and learn as we go and not be afraid to have conversations,” she said.

Johnson said the event will last one hour, and people wanting to register for the event can call or email the club. It will also be shown on the club’s social media through Facebook Live.