Updates to oversight committee considered on Thursday

Proposed updates tied to a seldom-used civilian oversight committee that hears appeals of police department complaints will be the focus of a public meeting this week.

The city will preview proposed updates to the Audit and Review Committee and to allow community members to add their own suggestions, said Aida Ramirez, director of the city’s Human Rights Commission. The meeting is scheduled for 6 to 7 p.m. Thursday at the Donner Center, 739 22nd St.

Fifteen complaints were filed against the police department in 2016 and another nine filed in 2017, Police Chief Jon Rohde said.

However, the panel — which was established by a city resolution in 1992 and whose members are appointed by the mayor — has convened once since 2012.

The Audit and Review Committee only becomes involved once an appeal is filed by an individual if he or she doesn’t agree with the police department’s administrative finding, Ramirez said. In 2016, the committee supported the police department’s administrative denial of a local man’s claim of racial discrimination following an arrest. No appeals were filed last year.

The city, which has spent the past 18 months examining the committee’s role, has proposed several changes after a year-long discussion with the African American Pastor’s Alliance, a group made of leaders from five predominantly black churches in the area.

What was a good process at the time the committee was created has become outdated, said David Bosley, pastor of Dayspring Church of God Apostolic and a member of the alliance.

The pastor’s alliance made a presentation to the city with its list of recommended changes, Bosley said.

They included having complaint forms available at different locations in Columbus and providing a better understanding of the current process.

If you go

What: Proposed updates to the city’s Audit and Review Committee, which hears appeals of complaints filed against the Columbus Police Department.

When: 6 to 7 p.m. Thursday

Where: Donner Center, 739 22nd St.

For more on this story, see Wednesday’s Republic.

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Matt Kent is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at 812-379-5712 or mkent@therepublic.com