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CNBSeen Explained

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Don Merrill (and two other partners) seek to create a non-profit organization in Portland Oregon to enhance public safety by benefiting high-risk individuals most likely to be stopped by the police for improperly functioning vehicle lights. Specifically, those being drivers of color.

Establish a non-profit that reduces the number of discretionary police traffic and patrol stops for malfunctioning vehicle lights by providing a means for which high risk drivers can get those lights repaired at no cost to them. Also, the number of vehicles on the road with improperly working lights is a public safety concern. Those lights, outlined in ORS 816.010 through ORS 816.370 include headlights, auxiliary lights, passing lights, taillights, registration plate lights, brake lights, back up lights, turn signals, parking lights, cowl/fender lights, high beams, “Liddy” lights and reflectors. This non-profit is titled “CNBSeen”.

We are planning our first event on Saturday, January 9, 2021. We have applied for and received an Federal EIN. We will register with the state of Oregon and are in the process of applying for 501c3 status using the 1023EZ for small non profit organizations. The IRS allows non-profits that have applied for their tax-exempt status to operate “as if” they have already received it. This lets them take tax deductible donations. If non-profit status is not granted, the organization must repay all donations. Until status is granted, all donations will be placed in an escrow account overseen.

This non profit was first established in Oregon on July 30, 2016.

Initially, we seek to focus the efforts of this non-profit on neighborhoods with the highest number of non working vehicle light related stops by police. In the Portland, such stops in those neighborhoods are considered disproportionate when compared to the Metro area as a whole. Through our research, we have concluded that the individuals in those neighborhoods that we consider “high-risk” tend to be ethnic and racial minorities. However the program is open to all individuals in selected neighborhoods. Neighborhoods in which the number of stops are equal to or less than the number of stops for the Metro area as a whole are not included in the program.

Discretionary patrol rather than traffic related police stops are one of the major causes of individuals being ordered from their vehicles, which in turn leads to searches, arrests and violent or lethal force against those drivers by the police. Also, vehicles with inoperative lights are a public safety concern. Finally, drivers so stopped may accumulate financial burden derived from successive court appearances and fines accumulation leading to personal hardship including vehicle seizure and inability to pay other bills.

Among ways to distribute this service, CNBSeen is considering (1) establishing one or more locations where, periodically, the service is provided to drivers, and/or (2) working with auto repair businesses to provide the service or (3) contact a vehicle repair program at a public or private Oregon school so that replacing lights is done as part of their automotive training.

CNBSeen proposes a pilot program in Portland’s Humboldt neighborhood that will test the feasibility of the idea. In light of the current covid-19 crisis, many grantor organizations have cut back on grants. Nevertheless, we will still prepare applications to some of Portland’s grantor organizations this year and in 2021. Initially, our first effort will be out of our own pocket or with the help of a GoFundMe campaign. We expect to get bulbs and volunteering technicians donated from local auto parts and auto service establishments. Eventually, a grant will pay for inventory and labor, paperwork filings, website upgrades, an administrative space and outreach.

Besides foundation grants, funding support for the non-profit could include encouraging users and donors to give according to the PWYW (Pay-What-You-Want) model (though, they are under no obligation to pay for bulb replacements at all) and a marketing campaign that would extend to the above automotive service businesses as well as attorneys, bail bondsman, tow truck operators, etc.

At some point, we want to establish a community education component where drivers, in community spaces, could (1) learn how to replace their own bulbs (if the replacement was possible for their vehicle) and (2) receive instruction on the mechanics of a police stop and how to keep the situation from escalating.

After drivers of color and drivers in high-risk neighborhoods are pulled over by the police, intervention efforts such as CNBSeen have less chance to de-escalate a potentially bad situation. This is why the program seeks to address issues that draw the attention of the police and hopefully, avoid violent or fatal interactions between the police and people in these neighborhoods.

The pilot program for CNBSeen will function for one year. This lets CNBSeen compare police stops data collection reports compiled by the Portland Police Bureau twice for the same quarter. If the pilot program is successful in reducing the number of vehicle lights related stops in that year, it may be extended to a second year. The goal is eventually serve all of the most affected neighborhoods/populations. The success of the program and our ability to manage that success will determine how rapidly it expands.

CNBSeen intends to operate this project as a grassroots, bottom up rather than a top down effort. Community buy-in, as in seeing how CNBSeen can benefit individuals within affected neighborhoods is very important. So we will seek to reach out to the community through schools, church congregations, businesses and civic organizations, as well as through city and state government.

June 9, 2020

Written by Interviewer

June 9, 2020 at 17:12

Posted in Scratchpad

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