Citizens Police Review Board to recommend creation of additional staff position

Wednesday, February 8, 2012 | 11:03 p.m. CST; updated 2:08 p.m. CST, Thursday, February 9, 2012

*An earlier version of this article misstated the position of the mediator. The position would be full time.

COLUMBIA — The Citizens Police Review Board voted Wednesday night to recommend that the City Council amend the board's budget to create the position of a *full-time mediator who would handle appealed complaints.

The addition of this post was suggested by the Meditation Task Force in board member Betty Wilson's report. The mediator would decrease the delay in response to complaints by working closely with the Internal Affairs Unit to resolve claims against officers before they are appealed to the board.

Assistant City Counselor Rose Wibbenmeyer told the board that the 2012 budget allowed for the spending of $3,950 to hire non-governmental employees, frequently with short-term contracts. Instead, the board members said they thought a full-time mediator would be better able to lighten their caseload.

The board has yet to specify their requests for salary amount, physical office space and what department the proposed mediator would work in. They voted unanimously to recommend that the council create the new full-time mediator position.

The board also discussed the Columbia Police Department's progress in complying with a city ordinance requiring all police policies to be posted on the city's website. Wibbenmeyer relayed Police Chief Ken Burton's report from Monday's council meeting. The report said that all publishable policies will be uploaded and available on the police department's homepage by March 1.

Currently there are eight of an undisclosed number of total policies available online. Because some of the policies reveal police tactics that could possibly endanger a policeman's life, those will not be published on the website.

The board also made an initial review of a complaint case in which Demetrius Tatum filed a complaint that said racism was involved in his false arrest for attempted robbery. The appeal was originally filed Dec. 27, but was postponed for a full hearing at the board meeting Jan. 11 and again at Wednesday's meeting.

The board decided that not enough information had been gathered to determine whether there was evidence of racism in the handling of Tatum's arrest.

Attorney Dan Viets, who represented Tatum at the meeting, agreed to the board's decision because he had not had enough opportunity to view surveillance tape evidence to make a case at the start of the meeting. The board requested the presence of Sgt. Roger Schlude, Tatum and his two cousins, who were arrested with him, at the board's next meeting scheduled for March 14.

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Ray Shapiro February 9, 2012 | 2:54 p.m.

Iowa City's has its own lawyer and a far better, user-friendly web page than Columbia's:

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