The second meeting of community members working toward creating an independent police review board became contentious on March 2, when many of those in attendance voiced objections to the process.
About 30 people attended the prior meeting, held on Feb. 23, at the end of which they were asked to fill out a short questionnaire about the composition of an independent police review board – who should be included, e.g., and whether the members should be appointed.
Deputy City Manager Kimberley Richardson collected many of the questionnaires – some in attendance responded later by email, and some did not turn in answers at all. She said she would tabulate the answers and present that information at the March 2 meeting.
On March 2, after she presented the information, she informed the residents that she planned to present the information at the March 6 meeting of the Human Services Committee, and that sparked an animated discussion among several of the 24 people in attendance.
Dickelle Fonda, who attended both meetings, said, “This process seems very rushed. We had no time to talk at the last meeting – not time for people to hear each other.” She also said she felt that a committee appointed by the Mayor would be “part of what the problem is.”
Ms. Richardson said she felt those who responded to the questions “were consistent in their comments” and told those at the meeting to “address these problems to the Human Services Committee if you are concerned.”
Jean-Marie Freise said, “I thought last week was a brain-storming session.” She said some of those attending the meetings are still learning about the process. “The idea that this is going to the Human Services Committee meeting as feedback – it is not complete. If we were able to talk more, that would be helpful.”
Michelle Hayes, who also attended both meetings but did not fill out the questionnaire, said, “I don’t think this is representative of the conversation we’re having. I think in order for that to be a valid report to the Human Services Committee, we should have been told that that’s what was being done. We needed to be clued into the process and we need to start over.” She also threatened to remove her name from the committee if that were not done.
Ms. Richardson repeated that her job was to provide feedback to the Human Services Committee and again urged those concerned to attend the meeting and voice their opinions. “If you do not feel that this is accurate, you need to say that to the Human Services Committee.
Anna Roosevelt said, “How can you possibly say how many should be on the committee, who they would be, and how they would be appointed until you know what they are going to do and what authority they are going to have?”
Jarett Dapier said, “We need to do some brainstorming. In my opinion, regardless of what the HSC does, if there is value for the community, we need to talk among ourselves.”
Ms. Roosevelt also said she felt the group should appoint a leader or chairman (“not me”), who could speak for the group. “We need to do some brainstorming together.
Seventh Ward Alderman Eleanor Revelle, who attended the March 2 meeting and who sits on the Human Services Committee, said she felt it would be more meaningful to the Committee if one person spoke on behalf of those concerned. That way, she said, the message would be coming from a group, not from individuals.
Ms. Richardson said she would make a note of the group’s concerns in her report to the Committee.
At the end of the meeting, Bobby Burns was collecting names and contact information from those in attendance, with the intention of getting people together before the March 6 Committee meeting, which begins at 6 p.m. in Council Chambers, 2100 Ridge Ave. Reportedly, members of the group met on March 4.