The city of Columbia is accepting applications for a committee to investigate whether the Police Department needs a citizen review board.
The committee is being formed after a June 4 City Council meeting where members of the Minority Men’s Network asked the city to create a review board.
“The mayor asked City Council for permission to put together a committee that would consider the possibility of a civilian review board and whether or not we need one,” Columbia police Chief Randy Boehm said.
The purpose of the Committee for Review of Citizen Oversight of the Police Department is to assess the Police Department’s system of reviewing complaints, to understand the views of the department and the various groups involved and to get public input, according to a news release from Mayor Darwin Hindman. The committee will then compile its findings into a report with recommendations on how the city should proceed.
“There are no preconceived notions from the council,” said Chris Janku, Second Ward councilman and acting mayor while Hindman is on vacation. “This is an opportunity for discussion in the community.”
The committee, Janku said, is also going to study different systems of civilian oversight without being limited to a specific model.
“It’s a free opportunity to review all types of things,” he said.
This process is separate from the rewriting of the Police Department’s internal affairs policy, Boehm said.
In April, Aaron Thompson, a private consultant from Kentucky, reviewed the Police Department’s internal affairs policies.
In response to Thompson’s work, the Police Department formed a developmental committee consisting of members of the Police Department, Columbia police Capt. Mike Martin said. This committee reviews and evaluates different internal affairs systems across the country. They then discuss their research with the external committee, whose members are both civilians and officers. The external committee evaluates and reviews their research, and decides whether it meets the requirements.
“These two groups are the checks and balances between officers and the community,” said Martin, who is on the internal committee.
The first internal affairs progress report was presented to the City Council on July 2.
“We hope to have the new system working by Jan. 1, 2008,” Martin said.
Applications for the committee are available at the city clerk’s office, or online at gocolumbiamo.com. Applications are due at the clerk’s fourth-floor office, 701 E. Broadway, by noon on Sept. 7.