Just months ago, the future looked less than bright for a citizens board that investigates complaints of police misconduct.
At tonight’s Spokane City Council meeting, a committee appointed by Mayor Jack Geraghty will unveil plans for a new version of the board.
If the council approves the plan, out goes the Citizens Review Panel and in comes the Citizens’ Review Commission.
It’s smaller than the old one - seven members instead of 11 - and would have access to an entire complaint file instead of a synopsis.
“I feel definite progress was made,” said City Councilman Chris Anderson, who fought to keep the citizen review process in place and sat on the mayor’s committee. “This new commission should provide better oversight.”
Last fall, almost no one seemed happy with the review panel’s progress - including its own members.
Some complained it was too big to accomplish anything. Others said they had no authority and served merely as a research staff for the city. Still others said the police department was completely uncooperative.
Geraghty appointed a committee to revamp the panel when it looked like it wouldn’t survive the controversy.
The City Council created the panel in 1992 to provide an independent review of residents’ complaints about police misconduct that Chief Terry Mangan dismissed as unmerited.
If the panel deemed a complaint valid, it went on to the Public Safety Committee for further review.
The new commission would consist of one retired police officer, one retired judge or attorney and five Spokane residents. All members would be appointed by the mayor and must have lived in Spokane at least four years.
Under the new plan, Mangan would determine whether a complaint involves a question of police procedure or misconduct. Only misconduct complaints would be forwarded to the commission.
Commission members first would review an abbreviated complaint before deciding whether to look deeper. If they do, they would be given the entire file.
The commission’s review would be limited to the police department’s record.
A complaint considered valid by the commission would be sent on to the Public Safety Committee.
The council won’t vote on the commission proposal tonight and doesn’t plan to take any public testimony.
The briefing starts at 5:30 p.m. in the fifth-floor conference room of City Hall, W808 Spokane Falls Boulevard. The meeting begins at 6 p.m. in council chambers.
xxxx Meeting The council meets at 6 p.m. at City Hall
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