City considers changes to committee hearing police complaints

City officials plan to look at how complaints lodged against the Columbus Police Department are handled after two organizations voiced concerns about the current process.

Nearly 20 individuals attended a meeting Thursday evening at the Donner Center to review proposed updates being made to an city oversight committee that hears appeals of police department complaints.

The Audit and Review Committee, which was established by a city resolution in 1992 and whose members are appointed by the mayor, becomes involved once an appeal is filed by an individual if he or she doesn’t agree with the police department’s administrative findings. Complaints made against the police department come to the agency first for an internal investigation.

The city, which has spent the last 18 months examining the committee’s role, has worked in conjunction with the African American Pastors Alliance, a group made of up of leaders from five predominantly black churches in the area. Proposed changes to the current process were being presented in an effort to help provide a better understanding to the public of how it works, said Aida Ramirez, director of the city’s Human Rights Commission.

Among the changes include updating a complaint form to allow more room so individuals can write narratives, the creation of an online submission form and an opportunity for meditation to occur, Ramirez said.

The city also plans to create brochures and make complaint forms available at different locations in Columbus. Other than the police department, complaints can also be filed at the city’s Human Rights Commission office under another change being proposed, Ramirez said.

For more on this story, see Saturday’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