Blackledge resigns from CPAC

Attorney Autumn Beck Blackledge has resigned from the Citizens Police Advisory Committee, telling Mayor Grover Robinson that she believes the committee has become “ineffective and frankly, obsessed with the desire to have more power than originally intended and to be an oversight board with power over the Pensacola Police Department.”

She thanked the mayor for the opportunity to serve and was encouraged by the willingness of CPAC members to “engage in very difficult and honest conversations.”

Blackledge wrote that she hopes the new police chief will “continue to be open to learning new things, adopting anti-racist policies and developing a police department that serves the needs of our residents while keeping all of us safe.”


From: Autumn Beck
Sent: Thursday, April 1, 2021 11:28 AM
To: ‘Grover C. Robinson, IV’ <GRobinson@cityofpensacola.com>
Subject: CPAC

Mayor Robinson,

I attempted to reach you via phone, but your staff advised me that you are in all day meetings and that it would be better if I emailed you.

I am writing to tender my resignation from the Citizens Police Advisory Committee. Thank you for the opportunity to be included on the committee and I commend you for creating it. The formation of the committee was a progressive move which met a real need after the tragedy in our own community. I believe it could have been instrumental in forming a real partnership between the community and the police as Pensacola continues to grow and improve in the best interests of all citizens.

Unfortunately, I believe the committee became ineffective and frankly, obsessed with the desire to have more power than originally intended and to be an oversight board with power over the Pensacola Police Department. I am hopeful that our new Chief of Police, whomever that may be, will continue to be open to learning new things, adopting anti-racist policies and developing a police department that serves the needs of our residents while keeping all of us safe.

I was encouraged by the willingness of my co-committee members to engage in very difficult and honest conversations in the meetings and their commitment to improving what has historically been a broken relationship between people of color and law enforcement. I was also encouraged by the willingness of Chief Lyter and Acting Chief of Police Christman to listen to the committee for the purpose of understanding and not for defending; it showed a high level of desire to always improve as a Department.

Again, thank you appointing me to the committee; I am grateful for the experience.

Autumn Blackledge

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1 thought on “Blackledge resigns from CPAC

  1. Well, was the CPAC abolished on March 30 or not as Mayor Robinson said was going to happen? If abolished as promised on March 30, then I guess there was nothing to resign from on April 1. As a clue, no future meetings are listed on the city’s meeting calendar. CPAC’s report posted as part of the agenda package for the last meeting says it is an “interim report” though the phrase “final report” is used 20 times to describe it. Well, which is it – interim or final? The words have different meanings. When the city council does someday hire its own legal counsel, an early task should be to prepare a memorandum of law taking exception to Mayor Robinson’s assertion first that he has the constitutional power to appoint committees and then, when it was convenient for him, that he only has the constitutional power to appoint temporary committees. He has the power to appoint neither type of committee. The Charter for the City of Pensacola provides him no such power and even expressly reserves that power to the city council. Further, the public records of the 2008/2009 Charter Review Commission, and Assistant City Attorney Rusty Wells was then the City Attorney so he was there, make clear that the power to appoint “committees” is a city council function. I have the document. This is a lost opportunity because there was a need to have a great public discussion not just about law enforcement but also firefighting, rescue and EMS services in the city. My recommendation to the city council remains the same. It should appoint a Public Safety Commission supported by the Council Staff and fully independent of the executive branch. Its mission should be to assist the city council in providing legislative oversight to include undertaking directed tasks, making recommendations of its own and reviewing the mayor’s proposed budget and making its recommendations to the city council. Different from this exercise in political theatre, only “city residents” should be appointed to the commission that I propose be established. I really could care less what someone who refuses to live in our community has to say about how we should run “our” city.

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