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Police Review Board sets guidelines for closed sessions

Wednesday, October 12, 2011 | 11:41 p.m. CDT; updated 7:49 a.m. CDT, Thursday, October 13, 2011

COLUMBIA — The Columbia Citizens Police Review Board voted Wednesday on guidelines for holding closed sessions for its meetings.

Determining the guidelines was part of a compromise between the review board and the Columbia Police Department on seven points of the board's governing ordinance.

Mayor Bob McDavid gave the review board and the police a two-month deadline to submit proposed changes for the board ordinance in July.

The board finalized a draft of changes at a Sept. 14 meeting. At the meeting it decided to consider appeals on a case-by-case basis and a two-thirds vote but still needed to determine the scenarios that would warrant closed appeals.

The four guidelines state a session will be closed if:

  •  It involves statements from minors 16 and younger who are the principal complainant or witness. The session will be closed only during that time.
  • The complaints involve sexual assault or sexual intimidation, which is defined as threats or intimidation in a sexual manner.
  •  A police officer involved in the appeal is working undercover.
  •  Information in the appeal is otherwise closed by law.

Some members of the board were concerned the guidelines were too restrictive.

“I don’t want to have a list and have to lock ourselves into it,” board member Roger Dowis said.

Although the board set guidelines for closed meetings, James Martin, chairman of the review board, stressed the group’s ultimate goal.

“The board was created in an air of openness,” Martin said. “This is why (the guidelines) have critical consideration.”

The guidelines will be sent to Columbia City Council for review.

 


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