COLUMBIA — Before the Citizens Police Review Board starts to review cases of alleged police misconduct, its new members must first participate in a training program to prepare them for the complex issues they will face. The details of that program, however, remain to be decided.
The ordinance creating the review board, approved unanimously in July by the City Council, is not very specific in its description of training for board members:
“New board members shall participate in orientation and training that includes review of the police professional standard unit’s operating policies and procedures and a ride along with police officers. Training shall also include topics suggested by NACOLE in its recommended orientation and training for board members,” the ordinance states.
NACOLE stands for the National Association for Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement. Police Chief Ken Burton attended the group’s conference last week. Board members will follow its recommended code of ethics.
Of the nine board members announced last week, only one has experience in law enforcement. Carroll Highbarger was a deputy police chief with the Columbia Police Department. Several other members are or have been practicing attorneys.
The board will be responsible for examining cases of alleged police misconduct where the final decision of the police chief has been appealed by a police officer or citizen involved in the dispute.
If the board’s findings differed from those of Burton, he would have 10 business days to reconsider the original decision and either reaffirm or modify it. The officer and citizen also could appeal decisions made by the board to the city manager.
How should the new members of the Citizens Police Review Board be trained?