After years of discussion and planning, the Citizens Police Review Board is now only a few months from officially taking on its role as an independent monitor of police conduct. The guidelines for the board are in place; the City Council must next decide who will serve on the board and how they will be trained.
Forty-nine Columbia residents submitted applications by the Sept. 4 deadline to serve on the nine-person board. The council will choose eight members, while the Columbia Commission on Human Rights will appoint a ninth.
Applicants included professors, teachers, attorneys, retired military and law enforcement officials, health care workers, business owners and more. Most applicants expressed a desire to improve relations between the community and the Police Department.
Those applicants eventually selected to serve on the board will be responsible for examining cases of alleged police misconduct where the internal affairs unit's decision has been appealed. The board’s decisions can then be appealed to the city manager by residents and police officers involved.
Because of the sensitive nature of the board’s duties, the City Council is taking the selection of board members very seriously. About 15 to 20 applicants will be interviewed by the council. Those selected for the board will undergo extensive training on police policies and procedures and other relevant issues. The goal is to have the board up and running by the start of 2010.
What qualities should the City Council look for in potential Citizens Police Review Board members?