COLUMBIA — The Citizens Police Review Board might introduce a change in who can appeal complaints against Columbia police.
Proposed changes to the board's protocols were first read at Monday's City Council meeting. The amended ordinance, introduced by Third Ward councilman Gary Kespohl, would require that complainants be Columbia residents, have a direct relationship to someone involved in the incident or be a directly involved party or witness to the incident.
The current ordinance only requires that appeals be filed within 21 days of the police chief's decision about alleged police misconduct. It makes no mention of jurisdiction or who has standing to file an appeal.
Kespohl said he saw the need for the changes after attending the review board's July 14 meeting. There, he said he watched for more than an hour as the board debated the validity of its first appeal about the Feb. 11 SWAT raid that resulted in the death of a dog, which came from an unexpected source: California-based marijuana activist Ed Rosenthal.
Rosenthal was not present during the raid and is not related to anyone involved with the incident. He acknowledged during the review board's July 14 meeting that he only knew of the incident after viewing a YouTube video.
According to previous Missourian coverage, Rosenthal filed his appeal with the review board after Police Chief Ken Burton rejected his initial complaint regarding the Feb. 11 SWAT raid incident and Columbia Police Department policies.
"No one envisioned a complaint coming in from California," board Chairwoman Ellen LoCurto-Martinez said in a previous Missourian article.
Kespohl, the board's council liaison, said the jurisdictional questions have stalled the review board's progress.
"What I don't want is for the review board to spend their time discussing complaints without any ties to Columbia," Kespohl said.
After the July 14 meeting, LoCurto-Martinez agreed to form a subcommittee to address eligibility for future appeals and possible changes to the ordinance. Subcommittee members Stephen Alexander, Carroll Highbarger and Susan Smith presented Kespohl with the amended ordinance last week.
The review board will discuss the proposed changes at their Aug. 11 meeting; their comments will then be passed on to the City Council, who will discuss the ordinance Aug. 16.
LoCurto-Martinez said a changed ordinance would have no impact on Rosenthal's appeal.
The review board will meet Aug. 4 at 7 p.m. to continue their discussion of Rosenthal's appeal and the SWAT raid.
Abby Rogers and Will Guldin contributed to this report.