Letter to the editor: Reviewing the police
To the editor:
The City of Lawrence should expand the powers and composition of its Community Police Review Board to make it more effective and enhance its credibility with the public. There may be a general perception that LPD internal affairs investigations are not truly independent. Without having the option of appealing to an independent body, citizens who experience a negative interaction with a police officer have no real recourse, except for pursuing a costly lawsuit.
Lawrence should consider adopting the model developed by the City of Oakland, Calif. The board should have the power to initiate its own investigations and have broad subpoena powers to produce witnesses and documents. Plus, the LPD should be required to turn over all evidence and videos related to the incident. The board could contract with an independent investigator who reports only to the board. Plus, the board should have the power to discipline officers if the police chief fails to do so and recommend new or revised police department policies or practices.
Such a reconstituted board should have representatives from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, American Civil Liberties Union, Haskell Indian Nations University and the Fraternal Order of Police. A strong and independent Community Police Review Board would not only expand justice in the community, but would reduce the possibility of costly lawsuits and civil unrest.
Clark H. Coan,