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Archive for Wednesday, January 29, 1992

REPORT ON POLICE TO BE AIRED ON TV

January 29, 1992

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Lawrence city commissioners will discuss a review panel's report on the Lawrence Police Department at an upcoming, televised meeting instead of a study session recommended by city staff.

The 22-page report by the Lawrence Police Peer Review Committee lists a variety of recommendations for police department policies, training and community relations.

"The report is very important to the city commission and the city of Lawrence, and I would like for it to have the greatest amount of exposure possible," Commissioner Bob Schumm said at Tuesday's commission meeting. "I think it would be in the best interest of everyone to have this discussion live on TV for everyone to watch."

Commission meetings are broadcast live on Sunflower Cablevision Channel 6.

"We do want for all the people who have been involved in this or have some insight or concerns to become part of the discussion," Mayor Bob Walters said.

Commissioners voted unanimously at Tuesday's meeting to receive the report.

THE REPORT was sparked by the April 21, 1991, police shooting of Gregory Sevier, a 22-year-old Native American. A coroner's jury, called to review the case, ruled that the shooting was justified.

Criticism of the police department after the shooting prompted the commission to form the review board.

Among its recommendations, the report says the police department should use public forums and other means to routinely inform the public of its policies and operations.

It also recommends that the department develop a specific policy for handling domestic disturbance calls. The commission recently adopted a set of guidelines the police should follow when handling domestic violence calls.

City Manager Mike Wildgen said city staff members were preparing a response to the report for the meeting.

"I'd like to have 30 days at least for the department to respond and be prepared for some of the wording changes and policy changes and that type of thing," Wildgen said.

WALTERS recommended that the discussion of the report be scheduled so that members of the committee especially Darrel Stephens, the review panel's chairman could attend and discuss their findings.

Stephens is executive director of the Police Executive Research Forum in Washington, D.C., and former Lawrence assistant police chief.

The review board also included a Haskell Indian Junior College professor, a Kansas University law professor and KU's general counsel.

Walters praised committee members for the work they put into finishing the long-awaited report.

"I think that members of the committee worked diligently and spent an awful lot of energy (on the report)," he said. "I'm extremely pleased to view the report (in light of) the recommendations that I think will improve our community and police department."

Commissioners directed Wildgen to schedule discussion of the report at a commission meeting in about a month or so.

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