The town's new Community Policing Advisory Committee rejected the Town Council's request to help create a website for residents' comments about the Yates Motor Co. police raid.
The committee, which had asked for an outside investigator to look into the Nov. 13 raid on the vacant former car dealership downtown, said a website would not produce reliable information. After listening to them, Chapel Hill Town Council member Jim Ward, who was among those who had supported the website, said he was "fully swayed" by the committee's objections.
"I'm convinced it's not the way to go," he said.
Member Jessica Smith, an attorney who had originally proposed the outside investigator, said the website would not help the committee establish a factual record of events on which to base policy recommendations, its main charge.
"It makes no sense for me to review something you have absolutely no means to test the veracity of,"she said. "This proposal is just one step further down the road of degraded information."
The council had asked the committee to work with town staff on a website that could let witnesses provide information without identifying or incriminating themselves. Police led by a Chapel Hill Police Department Special Emergency Response Team charged eight people in the incident -- seven with breaking and entering and one with delaying and obstructing a police officer -- after a group of self-described "anti-capitalist occupiers" entered the building at 419 W. Franklin St. and announced plans to turn it into a community center with a proposed daycare, clinic and beds for the homeless.
Instead of working with the website, the committee agreed to tell the Town Council it wants to 1) identify policy areas the Yates incident suggests could be improved 2) act as a sounding board as a consultant works with police to review and recommend policy changes and 3) review the draft of any recommended policies the consultant comes up with.
Chief Chris Blue attended the meeting and said he would bring the consultant and provide an update at the committee's March meeting.
Look for more on last night's meeting coming Sunday in The Chapel Hill News.