Haverhill Council and Mayor to Meet in Special Session to Address Racism; Mayor Forms Task Force

Haverhill City Councilor Melinda E. Barrett. (WHAV News photograph by Jay Saulnier.)

Haverhill officials agree they must consider wide-ranging policy changes involving police and other city departments to address racism and increase diversity.

Council President Melinda E. Barrett and Councilor John A. Michitson received support from Mayor James J. Fiorentini at Tuesday night’s City Council meeting. Michitson requested both branches of city government discuss the matter in a workshop-style session.

“We are requesting a Mayor-Council conference with the police chief, the police union representation, community representatives as well as other community stakeholders and school representation,” he said.

For his part, Fiorentini said he is very happy to take part in such a conference. He also took the opportunity to announce a newly formed task force on diversity and inclusion. A group, he said, would be looking to find more ways to diversify the entire city government.

“So that our work force and our boards more accurately reflect the city. I’m also going to be asking this task force on diversity to work with the police chief and I to take a look at the police practices we have now,” he said.

The mayor said he believes that Haverhill has very good policies in place regarding the use of force by police and bias issues but said there is always room for improvement. Racism has taken center stage in cities nationally since the death of George Floyd May 25 while he was in Minneapolis police custody. One Minneapolis police officer was charged with murder and all four officers involved were fired.

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