The city of Brookings is applying for a federal Community Development Block Grant to remodel the old Southwestern Oregon Community College site on Pine Street to a Head Start facility – but has to adopt a policy concerning the police department’s use of excessive force in civil rights demonstrations to get it.
The connection is vague, said Brookings City Manager Gary Milliman.
The Brookings Police Department has a 412-page policy manual that is updated from time to time, and this new federal requirement is not included in the manual.
“The frustration with us is that we contract with a national company that updates the policies that are vetted nationally for any number of standards: shooting, driving, use of firearms, force – and hundreds of agencies adopt,” Milliman said.
“This policy isn’t included at all. Some congressional committee tagged it onto a bill. And we went through the whole grant process and it didn’t come up until virtually everything was done.”
The wording will be soon be adopted by the Brookings City Council in a resolution to abide by the new requirement:
1. The use of excessive force by the Brookings Police Department shall not be used against any individuals engaged in non-violent civil rights demonstrations.
2. The city shall enforce applicable state and local laws against physically barring entrance to, or exit from, a facility or location that is the subject of non-violent civil rights demonstrations within the city.
Milliman joked that he doesn’t expect to see a demonstration regarding Head Start.
The former college site needs extensive remodeling, and officials soon determined it would not be feasible for the city to spend up to $100,000 to make it work for Head Start classrooms.
The Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) is a federally-funded program administered by the Oregon Infrastructure Financing Authority. Funding can be used for public facilities and housing improvements, primarily for people in the low- and moderate-income bracket.
The Oregon Community Action would be in charge of acquiring and remodeling the facility.
Brookings is generally not eligible for such funding because the median income here exceeds requirements, but Head Start can meet those criteria because the majority of its clients fall within the grant guidelines. The Oregon Community Action group estimates all of those who will benefit from Head Start would be of low to moderate income.
The proposed Head Start program will serve about 175 people annually, including at least 52 children and their families.
The Head Start program promotes school readiness for children ages 3 to 5 by providing comprehensive education, health, nutrition and social services.
According to the Head Start website, parents play a large role in the program, both as primary educators of their children and as participants in administering the program locally. The program provides pre-literacy and literacy experiences in a multi-cultural environment. Parents are also provided social services, including assistance with childcare.