Committee sets 2nd meeting on changes to police oversight panel

Changes being considered to a civilian oversight committee that hears appeals of police department complaints will be discussed during a public meeting next week.

The changes being considered to the city’s Audit and Review Committee will be shared with the public 6 p.m. Monday at the Donner Center, 739 22nd St., said Mary Ferdon, executive director of administration and community development with the city.

The committee, established 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 following an internal investigation.

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 the proposed updates. The changes, which were first presented to the public during a Jan. 18 meeting, also were reviewed last week by the members of the Audit and Review Committee.

Individuals on the seven-member panel said earlier this month that they did not have any concerns about the proposed changes, which include the creation of an online submission form where complaints could be submitted and an opportunity for mediation to occur. In addition, the city has also proposed making complaint forms available at various locations in Columbus such as the Bartholomew County Public Library.

Other changes being considered include removing membership seats reserved for the Bartholomew County NAACP president and a representative of the pastors alliance. The city also has proposed changing the name of the committee to the Columbus Police Review Board to better reflect its mission, said Aida Ramirez, director of the city’s human rights commission.

The proposed updates are subject to approval by the Columbus Board of Works. If approved, the city hopes to have the changes take effect in the second quarter of this year.

If you go

Changes being considered to the city’s Audit and Review Committee will be shared with the public 6 p.m. Monday at the Donner Center, 739 22nd St.

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