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Civilian Review Work Group Contemplates Letting Voters Choose Board

Taijuan Moorman Taijuan Moorman Civilian Review Work Group Contemplates Letting Voters Choose BoardPhoto by Matt Ellis.
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On Thursday, Aug. 20, the city’s Civilian Review Board Work Group met in their second virtual meeting as the group begins to form the city’s civilian police review board.

That group’s work has involved looking at similar boards in other cities, including examining their structures, requirements, functions and funding, in order to make recommendations for a city charter.

The group has also discussed how Columbus’ civilian review board could be seated, including through some kind of appointment process, which is most common among other cities, as well as a potential election process, which is unheard of in major cities.

Typically, cities will allow the mayor, city council or a hybrid of the two that could include special interest groups — such as the American Civil Liberties Union and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People — to appoint the board. What a couple members of the work group proposed, however, would allow voters to chose at least some of the members of the board.

“I’m okay with a hybrid, but I don’t think we need all-appointed seats,” said Jasmine Ayres, a community organizer with the People’s Justice Project, among other organizations. “I think the people of Columbus should have a say in who is advocating on their behalf.”

Ayres mentioned the future setup of city council, which will expand the size of council from seven to nine members, each from a designated district and elected at-large, which is to take place in 2023, as a model for the board.

Nana Watson, president of the Columbus chapter of the NAACP, agreed with some sort of election process, and suggested the city may have a structure to which that could be done, including a process similar to the way area commissioners are elected that can provide a blueprint for selecting individuals for the board.

The number of members on the board is likely to be small. The work group considered the number of members in various other cities, and found a median of around 10 to 11, which much of the group seemed to lean toward.

In terms of appointments, there could be an online application process for city officials and interest groups to consider.

There are four additional meetings planned until November. The final details regarding the board, the Department of the Inspector General and what is to be included in the charter are yet to be determined.

The next Civilian Review Board Work Group meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 1, and will be streamed via the City of Columbus’ Facebook and YouTube pages, where past meetings can also be viewed.

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