The African American Community Advisory Council seeks an interim leader following the departure of its chair.
Longtime council chair Felicia Cross has resigned from her position to avoid a conflict of interest after taking a position as a crime prevention coordinator for the Seattle Police Department. Cross announced she had taken the position at the March 16 council meeting, and again on March 23 at a meeting of the East Precinct Advisory Council. She began her new postion March 13, and said she looked forward to the opportunity to make her off-hours passion into her profession.
“I am super-excited about the new position,” Cross told the East Precinct Council. “Now I’m able to just dedicate myself to all the things that I do in my spare time.”
Cross has taken on the task of appointing a new chair who will serve the African American Community Advisory Council on an interim basis through November.
The Seattle Police Department uses crime prevention coordinators as a combination of public educators and communications outlets. Coordinators educate residents and businesses about crime prevention tactics, provide resources for neighborhoods to begin block watches, and send out email notifications regarding incoming residents on the sex offender registry and other precinct communications.
In February, Terrie Johnston, the crime prevention coordinator who served both the west and east precincts, announced that the East Precinct would soon have its own dedicated coordinator. Johnston warned that, whoever the new coordinator turned out to be, they would likely need months to bring themselves up to speed on the community.
In that sense, it’s a boon to the community that Cross took the position, East Precinct Advisory Council chair Troy Meyers said.
“I’ve known Felicia for a while,” Meyers said. “She’s a really dedicated person who is very engaged in the community and what’s going on. She’s really passionate. So it’s awesome to have a person who is a known quantity and doesn’t have to be brought up to speed on the neighborhood.”
As chair of the African American Council, Cross used her position to give black Seattleites a voice in the aftermath of multiple law enforcement controversies, including the federal oversight of Seattle police over excessive force, the police shooting of Che Taylor, and a lawsuit that involved alleged discrimination against black police officers. The meetings regularly draw 40-70 participants, and sometimes upward of 100.
“Oftentimes the conversations would drive very passionate discussions,” she said. “As the chair of the council, I have always stressed [respectful dialogue]. It’s difficult when there are no answers or instant solutions to the problems.”
Cross offered a few points of advice to her as-yet unchosen successor.
“Allow people to be heard, acknowledge and validate others’ pasions,” she said. “Follow up and respond to questions and requests. Be able to delegate. Be sure to include topics that appeal to the community’s concerns.
“And always have food at your meetings.”
The African American Advisory Council was created in 1996 as a forum for the African American community to provide input to the department. It is one of several demographic councils for historically “disenfranchised [or] alienated” communities, according to police. Demographic councils also exist for the East African, Filipino, Korean, Latino, LGBTQ, Native American, South East Asian, Muslim, Sikh and Arab communities.