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South Bend weighs in on Citizens Police Review Board

NOW: South Bend weighs in on Citizens Police Review Board

SOUTH BEND, Ind. - South Bend Common Council's Community Relations Committee has turned to the public for input on how to set up a citizens police review board. The proposal is currently outlined in Bill 12-20 and is under committee consideration after it was initially tabled at the last full council meeting. Tuesday night, the public got its first chance to weigh in.

As it is written now, Bill 12-20 has the citizens review board made up of 9 voting members, two nonvoting, advisory members who are police officers and one independent advisory nonvoting member. Having police officers on the board in any capacity drew public criticism.

"I think it's pretty pointless to have a citizens review board that has police on it," said Paige Wiseman, a resident of South Bend. "It really makes no sense to me at all, and it's really disappointing and really makes it seem like this is just another piece of propaganda to make us feel like you're doing something when you're really not."

The Community Relations Committee members urged the public to be patient through the legislative process that each member said would be a long one.

"This is new," Second District Councilman Henry Davis, Jr. said. "This is what we are offering. This is what we can offer. I'm asking you to participate in this process."

Community Relations Committee Chair Lori Hamann agreed.

"For us to be able to take the final vote, we have to take in all of these proposed amendments, and we will literally re-write this bill into the form of the final ordinance," Hamann said. "So, it does take a bit of time. So, we are asking for your patience. You've been wonderful thus far. We are not giving up."

Common Council Vice President Karen White said a citizens review board does more than hold the police department more accountable.

"Not only does it hold law enforcement accountable at a certain level, but it'll also enhance communication," White said. "It gives our citizens a better viewpoint in regards to the operation of the police force and policies and procedures. We see this as another police reform initiative, and this is one that our citizens have been asking or for quite some time."

The vote on Bill 12-20 was tabled until the next full council meeting, but committee members said they fully expect to table the vote again at that meeting as well. They said not to expect a full vote until late July or early August.

The Community Relations Committee will be holding another public hearing on Bill 12-20 Thursday night at 6 at Boehm park.

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