Douglas County creates Criminal Justice Coordinating Council, names two members

The Douglas County Commission approved a resolution Wednesday creating the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council and named two of its members.

The coordinating council’s charge is to bring agencies and departments involved in criminal justice together to evaluate programs and operations, collect information, and make recommendations for improvements, particularly those that provide alternatives to incarceration. Commission Chairman Jim Flory said the creation of the coordination council should not detract from past efforts of the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, District Attorney’s Office, the District Court and other agencies involved in the county’s criminal justice system.

“The only frustration I have is when we say we want to do better, the good things we have done get overlooked,” he said, noting the success of the Douglas County Jail’s reentry program.

Commissioners reached consensus on membership of the coordinating council at their March 2 meeting, and the resolution made small amendments, such as the additions of the director of Douglas County Reentry and a representative of court services as non-voting members. Membership is to include the chief judge of the Douglas County District Court; the sheriff; the district attorney; a county commissioner; a member of the Douglas County defense bar whom the County Commission would appoint; the Lawrence police chief; a Lawrence municipal judge; a Lawrence city commissioner; the county director of youth services; the DCCCA director; and the executive director of the Bert Nash Community Mental Health Center. In addition, each of the three county commissioners will appoint a community member to the body. The county administrator and the Lawrence city manager will join the court services and reentry representatives as non-voting members.

Flory was the first commission member to name the individual to represent his commission district, the 3rd District, appointing L. Susan Hadl to the coordinating council. The retired Lawrence Police Department sergeant and Justice Matters mental health committee member would bring the right approach to her appointment, he said.

“My hope is this council is action-oriented, not verbally oriented,” Flory said.

Flory also agreed to be the County Commission’s representative on the body. Flory proposed, however, that neither he nor any future commissioner serve as the coordinating council’s chair so that the body could keep its independence and not be seen as doing the County Commission’s bidding.

Commissioners also passed along a draft of recommended bylaws for the coordinating council to consider. Those would have the coordinating council meet on a bi-monthly schedule, select the body’s chairman and vice-chair, and determine the level of staff support it will need.

Commissioners agreed the coordinating council probably would meet more often as it gets established, perhaps as often as once every two weeks.

In other business, the County Commission approved a contract with Mountain Town Maintenance Inc. to treat Lone Star Lake with a herbicide to kill Eurasian Water Milfoil. Doug Stephens, Douglas County Public Works division manager, said Lone Star Lake would be closed two days while the water was treated but that there would be no limitations on the lake’s use after treatment. The grant the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism administers will reimburse the county 57.1 percent of the $57,400 contract.