The ordinance falls far short of addressing two primary goals. One goal is rebuilding trust between community and police. The other goal is providing independent taxpayer oversight.
This should be an Independent Oversight Board.
To be effective, this board needs be independent of the elected officials, the police department, and the influence of the union.
The board should be able to hire their own attorney, investigator, and HR Consultant.
The board and their investigator should have subpoena power to obtain unredacted documents, interviews, videos, official reports, and to have the ability to interview witnesses independently of the information provided by the Aurora Police Department.
I do believe that the board would be stronger if it included someone from our community who has experienced police brutality as well as a retired police officer.
This ordinance gives the board power to make recommendations, but their decisions are not binding. This needs to be addressed.
For these reasons, and a few more, I’m asking the council to send this back to committee to strengthen this board.
NAMING OF THE BOARD: This should be a citizens oversight board, not a civilian review board.
INDEPENDENT OVERSIGHT: To be effective, an independent citizen review board needs to operate 100% independent of the elected officials and the police department.
In addition to hearing complaints submitted to the department, the board should be able to take complaints directly from the community and review them independently.
The board and their investigator should have subpoena power to obtain all documents, interviews, videos, and official reports to have adequate information to make a decision. Additionally, the board’s investigator should have the ability to interview witnesses independently of the information provided by the Aurora Police Department.
BUDGET: This board needs a budget and the ability to hire their own investigator and provide a stipend for those who serve on the board. I believe that Section 2-826 item A and Sections 2-829 needs to be amended to give power to the board to hire their own attorney and investigator. That budget can be created with existing funds that pay for an internal review officer. This should come with no new costs to the taxpayers, but simply appropriate
I agree with item B, and agree that we need to protect the identity of our employees from the public, but Item C of Section 2-826 also needs to also be reviewed so the findings of this board are not word-smithed through the PR department.
BOARD COMPOSITION: I do believe that we should NOT limit the board to people who have a clean record, and might be victims of police brutality. We need to have a diverse set of opinions on this board and after talking to the police union president, I would amend some of my earlier statements and think that if we are going to allow an ex felon on the board that we should also be willing to allow one member to be a retired police officer.
BINDING AUTHORITY: Finally, we need to do more to make sure that the recommendations by the board are upheld, not ignored. I understand that a board needs to adhere to guidelines of employment law and the union contract. This ordinance gives the board power to make recommendations, but their decisions are not binding.
POSITIVE ASPECTS: I do like that the board is also tasked with providing direction on how to improve relations between police and the public. I believe firmly that this is also a duty of the city council and that a modern look at policing and changing the role of police in our community is a necessary step.