Changes could be coming to a committee that provides oversight of the Columbus Police Department.
The Audit and Review Committee For Citizens and Police Relations was created in 1991. The committee formed after the Columbus African American population voiced concerns that they weren’t being treated correctly.
The committee reviews complaints made against the police department. In some cases, it votes to determine whether the department acted properly.
The mayor chooses three volunteer community members to serve on the committee.
The other two spots are promised to a member of the African American Pastor’s Alliance & the current NAACP president. But, that could change.
Aida Ramirez is the director of the human rights commission. She says residents voiced concerns about the current makeup of the committee to Mayor Jim Lienhoop.
“The pastors were being informed by members of their church that they didn’t trust the process. That they didn’t trust our complaint process,” Ramirez says.
The proposed changes would, among other things, require each committee member to be a Columbus resident. All members would also receive training on police practices.
But the proposed changes wouldn’t guarantee spots for the NAACP president or a member of the African American Pastor’s Alliance on the committee. Ramirez says that’s causing some concerns among the African American population.
Ramirez says another proposed changes to the committee is an online form for citizens to file complaints against police. She says only having an in-person form can act as a barrier for some residents.
“Or simply don’t want to the police station to file a complaint against the police, with the police, at the police station,” Ramirez says. “And so certainly some of these proposals and recommendations are being embraced.”
The committee could vote on the proposed changes later this month. They will then have to be approved by the Board of Public Works and Safety.