ANAHEIM – Until now anyone with a complaint about Anaheim police had little recourse aside from reporting it to the Police Department.
A proposed Police Review Board – a permanent civilian panel that would expand on a pilot program – would change that.
The board would hear and respond to public concerns, get briefed on officer-involved shootings and other incidents, and weigh in on police policies.
But the panel would not have subpoena power or be subject to the state’s open-meeting laws, and it could be disbanded by the city manager, to whom it would report. That leaves some wondering how effective the board would be at winning the community’s trust and holding police accountable.
“Hopefully the city has learned – we (residents) certainly have – it needs a lot of work,” she said.
The City Manager’s Office intends to establish the panel, and the City Council will get updated about the proposal on Tuesday, Dec. 5.
The new board would replace the temporary Public Safety Board, created in 2014 in the wake of a series of officer-involved shootings and public protests.
Mayor Tom Tait said he pushed for civilian oversight to help rebuild public trust in the Police Department, but the pilot program wasn’t as strong as he would have liked.
“It was important to get something started,” Tait said. “(But) it was far from perfect.”
The nine-member Public Safety Board met a dozen times from October 2014 to February. It helped foster communication between residents, the city and the Police Department.
But, board member Michael Vogelvang said, the panel went through much trial and error to learn what would work, but the public wasn’t as involved as he had hoped.
Smith said board members weren’t adequately trained, and because residents could make comments but not ask questions or expect a response, “It was pretty one-sided.”
The new seven-member Police Review Board would meet monthly, post agendas and other information online, get timely updates on officer-involved shootings, and publish data on use-of-force and public complaints.
City officials said not putting the board under the state’s Brown Act open-meeting guidelines means more sensitive information could be shared with members but not the public, such as footage from body cameras. But others disagree.
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