Committee hears appeals of police department complaints

A civilian oversight committee that hears appeals of police department complaints will be briefed Thursday on proposed changes to the group.

Members of the city’s Audit and Review Committee will meet at 6 p.m. in Conference Room 4 on the ground floor at Columbus City Hall, 123 Washington St., to review proposed amendments being made to a resolution. There are no action items listed on the agenda for the meeting, which is open to the public.

The committee, which was established by a city resolution 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 following an internal investigation.

An initial community meeting was conducted Jan. 18 at the Donner Center to review proposed updates with the public. The city has spent the past 18 months looking at the committee’s role and has worked with the African American Pastors Alliance, a group of leaders from five predominantly black churches in the area, on proposed updates.

Proposed changes to the current process were presented in an effort to help provide a better understanding to the public of how the committee works, said Aida Ramirez, director of the city’s human rights commission.

Among changes being considered are the creation of an online submission form, an opportunity for mediation to occur and to make complaint forms at different locations in Columbus such as the Bartholomew County Public Library. City officials have also proposed changing the name of the committee to the Columbus Police Review Board to better reflect its mission.

Under another change being considered, there would be no reserved spots on the committee, which currently has seven members. The panel currently has a membership seat on the panel reserved for the Bartholomew County’s NAACP president and an additional seat for a member of the African American Pastors Alliance. Appointments would still be left to the discretion of the mayor, Ramirez said.

The city plans to have a second public meeting to review the proposed changes at 6 p.m. Feb. 19 that is likely to be at the Donner Center, said Mary Ferdon, executive director of administration and community development with the city. The proposed changes, which are subject to approval by the Columbus Board of Public Works, could go before the panel during the second week of March, Ferdon said.

If you go

What: Audit and Review Committee meeting to review proposed updates

When: 6 p.m. Thursday

Where: Conference Room 4 on the ground floor at Columbus City Hall, 123 Washington St.

The meeting is open to the public.

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