DeKalb City Council considering civilian police review board
FromKALB –The city of DeKalb may have a civilian police review board in the near future after council members gave the go-ahead to create an ordinance for a formal vote on the review board.
The idea of establishing a civilian police review board follows calls for police reform in the DeKalb community and across the country following the police killing of George Floyd in May 2020. Residents of DeKalb recommended a Citizens Advisory Council on police-community relations to be established last June.
City manager Bill Nicklas drafted a version of the potential civilian police review board for Monday’s city council meeting. The council would be made up of five DeKalb residents who would be nominated by the mayor of DeKalb and approved by the city council, according to the Aug. 9 city council. agenda.
Each board member would serve a two-year term and be comprised of a diverse composition of DeKalb residents. The council would hold public meetings “not less than six times a year,” the agenda says.
The purpose of the commission would be to review closed police investigations into all “use of force” cases and make recommendations to the police department, according to the agenda. The council’s findings will also become part of the city’s public records.
“A lot of thought has gone into this; a lot of people had opinions on the way forward,” Nicklas said. “There are other models, and we thought that fit our community. We’re aiming for something that fits the community, that’s our goal day in and day out.
Nicklas said he hopes to create an official order for the Civilian Police Review Board for the second city council meeting in August or the first in September.
DeKalb resident Frankie DiCiaccio said Monday night’s suggested proposal for council did not hold police officers accountable, but rather the city was working to be transparent.
“It’s also about momentum,” DiCiaccio said. “Nationally, we’ve had momentum that has led us to this moment, and my biggest fear is that we’re wasting it on something that doesn’t fundamentally change oversight. It’s really scary that we can give the illusion of progress, and everyone is going to sit down, and then something is going to happen. It’s my fear.
DeKalb Police Chief David Byrd said the police department embraces the idea of a review board and hopes review board residents will have the proper training at a civilian police academy. which offers scenario-based virtual training.
“We’re looking forward to it,” Byrd said. ‘We just want to make sure the training is in line with the training we’re going through, within the department, it will give them a real insight into what it’s like to be a police officer in this world we live in today’ today.”
Byrd also said the board must be extremely careful about false complaints and those that ruin an officer’s career.
“I think there should be an element in the process so that there are consequences for a false report about an officer or a false account about an officer,” Byrd said.
Many council members spoke in favor of the review board idea at Monday’s meeting.
“Some people say it doesn’t go far enough, but I think it’s a good first start, and I think it’s something we absolutely have to start; we can always change it later,” said Fifth Ward Councilman Scott McAdams.
Mayor Cohen Barnes said he supports the council and likes the aspect of transparency the council serves the community.
“It’s a start, and we can adapt, change and modify over time, as it suits the DeKalb community, so I fully support that,” Barnes said. “I’m really glad we have this in front of us, and I can’t wait to get the citizens’ review board together and put this in place.”