CoMoCitizens, Keep Columbia Free gather after Citizens Police Review Board decision

Wednesday, August 4, 2010 | 11:33 p.m. CDT; updated 9:50 a.m. CDT, Thursday, August 5, 2010

COLUMBIA — The disappointment was tangible outside of City Hall, where public safety interest groups CoMoCitizens and Keep Columbia Free hosted a gathering after the Citizens Police Review Board meeting Wednesday evening.

Members of both groups, which were formed in the spring, expressed disappointment that the board didn't require an independent investigation of the police conduct in the Feb. 11 SWAT raid. Instead, the board voted 4 to 3 to accept the chief's ruling that the officers acted appropriately during the raid. A pit bull was killed and a smaller dog injured in the raid. A 7-year-old was also in the house.


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California resident Ed Rosenthal, who filed the appeal with the board, flew in from California to speak at the meeting and address the roughly 20 people attending the gathering.

Here's a little of what they had to say. (Click on the names to hear audio comments.)

"This (incident) is not isolated. Don't sweep this under the rug. One of those dead dogs could just as easily have been that 7-year-old."
Mitchell Richards
of Keep Columbia Free, a group that aims to protect civil liberties and natural rights

"It's Rodney King, if you will. What's happened isn't unusual. What's unusual is that it was filmed. That's what makes this case so special, and that's why this case will not die."
Ed Rosenthal
, representative of Green Aid, a medical marijuana defense and education fund

"I would've liked to have seen more discussion about the fact that seven shots were fired in the home, and one of those shots accidentally hit (a small dog)."
Erica Warren
, co-founder of CoMoCitizens, a group that aims to end SWAT involvement in non-violent crimes

"We recognized that there were huge mistakes made here. There was an admission to those mistakes, and now it's time to move on."
Susan Smith
, Citizens Police Review Board member, who created the board's recommendations

"As far as not really looking into the case, really, it seems like they wanted to push it away as soon as possible. I don't think they spent enough time on it."
Donald Warren
, co-founder of CoMoCitizens

"I hate to sound so narrow and technical, but there is only so much that we get to do as a review board, some of which they (the public safety interest groups) don't understand."
Steve Weinberg
, Citizens Police Review Board member who proposed the amendment about checking for minors on the premise

"I think we handled it very well. I think we have a lot of independent thinkers, and I think we all had a chance to express our views and the majority voted."
Ellen LoCurto-Martinez
, Citizens Police Review Board member

Tim Wall contributed to this report.

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Katie Prince August 5, 2010 | 1:10 a.m.

"I think we handled it very well. I think we have a lot of independent thinkers, and I think we all had a chance to express our views and the majority voted."
— Ellen LoCurto-Martinez, Citizens Police Review Board member

---everyone got a chance to express his or her views except the people who actually made the complaint and the people in the community who agreed with them. I wonder why that is. It seems as though the Citizens Police Review Board isn't representing the citizens at all.

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith August 5, 2010 | 6:32 a.m.

And now a "practicality." In the future if you believe you are in serious peril from a person or persons or from an animal*, are you going to dial Columbia Police or one of these citizens groups? I'm going to dial the police. I am not attempting to belittle the citizens groups, which definitely have their place.

Police make mistakes, same as the rest of us. If they learn from their mistakes and don't repeat them, that's what's important.

We do not live in a perfect world.

*- Or from some person who is ACTING like an animal.

(Report Comment)

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