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MAILBAG: Questions about Police Commission

June 27, 2009

Questions about Police Commission

There is confusion out there regarding the Police Commission, and hopefully the City Council will set everyone straight (“Board member ousted,” June 20).

My understanding is that John Brady was ousted because he was on probation and not for the driving under the influence of alcohol conviction. There is, however, a real lack of information regarding the Police Commission’s meeting times, agendas and grievance policies.

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During my time on the Charter Review Committee, many of us wanted to empower the commission with even more authority than they have now, but a majority did not, and we had to compromise. Our compromise was to move what was currently in the city code into the Charter as a minimum set of powers that cannot be taken away easily since it was codified and approved by voters. Here are the current powers of the Police Commission — (a) There shall be a Police Commission, the size and membership of which are to be determined by the council.

(b) The Police Commission shall have the following powers and duties: To initiate studies and surveys in the general field of police science and law enforcement and report its findings and recommendations to the council; To conduct hearings, investigations, or both, at the request of the council for the purpose of ascertaining whether additional legislation is needed for the health, safety, peace and welfare of the inhabitants of the city and to make findings and recommendations to the Council; To act in an advisory capacity to the council on policy matters pertaining to the Police Department of the city; To receive complaints, except those relating to traffic engineering, pertaining to the Police Department and law enforcement in general; To examine books, papers, records and accounts in the Police Department, other than confidential matters under investigation.

(c) The council or the city manager may assign other powers and duties to the commission as they shall deem appropriate. (Added by Charter amendment approved by the voters April 10, 2007.)

My hope is that the council will move to get the Police Commission information out as soon as possible to stifle the chronic complainers. I guess when you complain often enough, at least a couple of your complaints will hit the mark.

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