Archive for Friday, March 13, 1992

CITY TO DISCUSS REPORT ON POLICE

March 13, 1992

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Lawrence city commissioners finally will have a chance to hash over a report examining the policies and practices of the Lawrence Police Department with its authors at their meeting Tuesday.

Drafted by the Lawrence Police Peer Review Committee, the report offers several recommendations on improving police training, recruiting and public relations.

Discussion of the report was postponed from the March 3 commission meeting due to scheduling conflicts with the committee chair.

The report's main recommendation says the police department should use public forums and other means to routinely inform the public of its policies and operations.

The 22-page report also says the department should develop a policy for conducting investigations on public complaints separate from internal inquiries.

Discussion of the report is scheduled from 6:35 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. The specific times were set to guarantee time for presentation of a report on downtown development later in the meeting.

THE PEER review 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 the shooting was justified.

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

Among the report's recommendations are that the department should restructure the police training manual section on use of force to clarify the philosophy behind the policy.

Commissioners planned discussion of the report around the schedule of Darrel Stephens, chair of the peer committee. Commissioners say they have specific questions for Stephens on the report's findings.

Although he wouldn't reveal his list of questions, Mayor Bob Walters said he expected the commissioners would ask Stephens if he has any ideas for implementing the report recommendations.

STEPHENS also has agreed to present the report, Walters said. "Darrel Stephens was the collector of this information," he said. "He seems like the appropriate person."

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

City staff also has invited the eight other members of the peer review committee to discuss the report.

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

The city has offered to pay Stephens' expenses for his trip to Lawrence, said City Manager Mike Wildgen. The other members are within driving distance, Wildgen said.

An opportunity for the public to respond to the report was postponed when it became obvious there wouldn't be enough time during the meeting to discuss the report and hear all public comment.

Walters said commissioners probably would set a date at the meeting for an informal public hearing or study session to hear public reaction.

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