Lawrence and Douglas County

Lawrence and Douglas county

Mayor suggests citizen review board for police

Law enforcement cautious pending details

August 25, 2005

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Lawrence residents need a better way to communicate ideas and concerns to the Lawrence Police Department, Mayor Boog Highberger said Wednesday.

At a study session to discuss progress on community goals, Highberger said he thought the city should create a new, broad-based citizen review board for the police department.

"I think we need some mechanism outside the direct control of the police department to give citizens assurances about our police department," Highberger said.

Highberger said he thought the police department was doing a good job, but he said there was a certain level of "distrust" among some members of the community.

"If people could know that their concerns were being independently reviewed, I think it would resolve some of that," Highberger said.

Police department officials said they were approaching the idea with caution until they heard more details. Sgt. Dan Ward, a spokesman for the department, said it was important that police department leaders have adequate authority to deal with personnel and policy issues.


Lawrence Police officers Brian Scarlett, left, and Michael Byrn stop a bicyclist who was riding on the sidewalk Wednesday in downtown Lawrence. Mayor Boog Highberger has suggested a citizen review board for the police department.

Lawrence Police officers Brian Scarlett, left, and Michael Byrn stop a bicyclist who was riding on the sidewalk Wednesday in downtown Lawrence. Mayor Boog Highberger has suggested a citizen review board for the police department.

"I can tell you that we do not support any process that would interfere with the officer's accountability, supervisors' oversight or confidentiality and due process for our officers," Ward said.

Details on who would serve and what issues within the department they would be allowed to address weren't specified by Highberger. But the mayor said he anticipated the group would work like most city advisory boards, which are appointed by the mayor and answer to the City Commission.

Highberger said now was the time to move forward with the advisory board because a new state law regarding racial profiling requires the city establish a committee to oversee police training and behavior related to racial profiling. Highberger said since a new board must be created, it might as well have broader authority to look at issues other than racial profiling.

Spokespeople for neighborhood organizations that have dealt with the police department said they were pleased with Highberger's proposal.

"I think it would be a good idea," said James Dunn, president of the Oread Neighborhood Assn., which has had several conversations with police about noise ordinances, parking enforcement and other issues. "Maybe what we need is a citizen's avenue to deal with these things. I know I get frustrated when I call (the police) about the same houses time after time."

Jerry Schultz, steering committee member for the Centennial Neighborhood Assn., said he also was pleased with the idea because it might help speed the process for change at the police department. He said his neighborhood worked for nearly two years with city officials about changing the way the police enforce the city's noise ordinance.

"When you are just a couple of folks from the neighborhood, you maybe don't have the credibility or get the recognition that you would really want," Schultz said. "A group like this might help."

Whether the group becomes reality is still an open question. Highberger's fellow commissioners didn't commit to the idea Wednesday but expressed willingness to discuss it.

Highberger said he hoped to have a serious discussion with other commissioners and the police department in early 2006.

Comments

cowboy 10 years, 8 months ago

Probably a good idea to help guide the dept in community relations. While I have had very courteous treatment from LPD I have also had extremely rude treatment and I feel that is something that has to be trained and reinforced rather than considered " normal cop " behavior.

Richard Heckler 10 years, 8 months ago

Yes it is a good idea. Neighborhoods are one entity that needs to feel like we have a voice.

erichaar 10 years, 8 months ago

How about a citizen review board for the city commission? That way we can keep an eye on the Progressive Lawrence kooks.

bankboy119 10 years, 8 months ago

I have to agree with wendt. Most of the time LPD does a great job, actually a few of them were my football coaches years ago in Junior High here. There always will be the few bad ones though just out to make their quota. My wife's friend got a speeding ticket for 3 over she asked the officer why and he said it was to make his quota.

Richard Heckler 10 years, 8 months ago

Boog is one of the most practical thinkers on this commission. Don't always agree with his decisions but so what.

pity2bu 10 years, 8 months ago

Well it's about time to see so many agree macon, wendt, offtheright and bankboy. I think that we need to leave the police department alone and focus on developing the following advisory boards, a landlord advisory board, city commission advisory board, and just a plain old squishhead advisory board.

The landlords need to be watched for renting to 15 people, each having two vehicles apiece. The Landlords know they are going to PARTY, they are kids, but yet they want to complain, ABOUT WHAT, NOISE, PARKING, DEAL WITH IT OR SELL THE PROPERTY. Good Grief, Don't buy a residence in the Old West Lawrence or around the University's main campus.

A city commission advisory board needed to watch so the commissioners don't spend $70,000 on another 2060, "I want to know about the future city plan!" hell for $125 dollars they can ask an astrologer or psychic for information. They will tell you how many convenience stores and apartments we can build in Lawrence in that year and if the stars are in line with the earth. Boog stated in April 2005 that he didn't believe the City needed such an advisory board for the police dept at that time. The hemp people have surfaced and put a choke hold on the mayor. We need advisory boards and let us legalize Marijuana. Heck, Pass me another DOOBIE Man, Let me get on the snorting and grunting train.

Unleash the BOOG, and Let's Gett'r Done.

Janis Pool 10 years, 8 months ago

I agree with smitty and small fish, but 2 cents brings up a good point. Who the commission picks to be on the board will dictate the value of the whole thing. As for the pot smoking, the only good thing about Olin's on line chat today was he gave some insight as to why it is an idea with merit. We shall see...

Charles L Bloss Jr 10 years, 8 months ago

The stupidist idea I have ever heard of ! The Lawrence Police do an outstanding job without a review board messing in their business. They have an outstanding chief, and if some case needs an outside agency to come in and investigate the department he would probably call the KBI. If people want to communicate with the police, call them, e-mail them, or stop an officer on the street. I do think a citizen review board of the city comission would be a good idea. Why? Because they came up with such a silly idea in the first place.

my2cents 10 years, 8 months ago

Citizens Board? Hmm....who the hell would sit on it? Ma and Pa from the neighborhood. What in the world do they know about law(Federal, State, Local), Due process, Policy & Procedure? A lawyer goes to school for what 6-8-10 years of his life to learn what is needed to practice law. And every day they continue to learn new law, policy & procedure.

HOW IN THE HELL IS A PERSON WITH NO LAW BACKGROUND GOING TO GIVE AN OFFICER A FAIR "REVIEW".

What a STUPID idea!!!!!

my2cents 10 years, 8 months ago

Smitty: www.lawrencepolice.org

It has a link to thier policy and procedures on there. You can read and educate yourself as well as all the public.

Just remember, The police don't come to your job and tell you how work.

my2cents 10 years, 8 months ago

Well don't break the law... That sounds simply enough.

I bet some cop made you mad because he didn't treat your case of P+ss-ides, like a murder investigation. The police are not there to hold your hand and guide you through you day to day life. Grow up!

And no they don't come to your job and tell you how to perform you day to day operations. I don't see the officers at McDonalds telling the cook he is fired, because he didn't do something right. That would be the manger. If you break the law that is one thing, follow the rules (Laws), and you will be ok.

And no I don't have a site for "powers of abuse", do you? I bet you do, Y....nevermind.

If the neighborhoods want to come together to form a colalition for there complaints, problems to be heard that is thing.
For someone with no Knowledge ofl law(Labor, criminal, civil, federal, state, local or whatever applies) to be in charge an Officer's Life is ABSOLUTELY STUPID!

Just becasue the Officer pissed you off doesn't mean he/she is a bad officer. Most likely they told you the truth anyways. The truth hurts.

fljay 10 years, 8 months ago

The idea of a police review board is long over due! The LPD does have outstanding officers but does have its internal problems. A review board or commission with full review authority and audit ability would shed "sunshine" on areas where the chief and his top lt's have been less than open in the past.

Sunshine is good. Those who oppose would prefer to work in the dark.

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