The city council meeting last night featured a number of changes to the structure of the commission system. A number of these changes were fairly technical—standardizing the number of commissioners, standardizing the operational language. But there were some substantive changes as well. The public did not receive notice of this item until Monday morning. Fortunately, Heystek moved to table the motion and the council majority agreed.
“The Subcommittee agreed that, with the addition of a Citizen Advisory Board [CAB] to the Police Chief, a Police Advisory Committee [PAC] to the City Manager, a contract Police Ombudsman for the community and other steps underway in the police department, the Human Relations Commission should focus on issues other than police oversight.”
The problem with this proposal is that it removes the only access the public had to the police oversight process. As council argued, they put in place two bodies the CAB and PAC that will handle oversight issues. However, neither body meets in public.
Council did suggest that the public would always have the opportunity to speak before the HRC on whatever issue they wanted. But this again avoids the central problem: the HRC has no power to act on these concerns. There is now no body in
Lack of public input into the process was already a concern during our seven-part series on police oversight. Now there is yet another contact with the public that has been removed. This represents a clear step in the wrong direction.
The good news is that because of the efforts of Lamar Heystek, this issue has not been voted on. There will still be an opportunity for public input and community discussion. The council has shown themselves to be relatively unreceptive to public pressure, so we remain skeptical that this can be changed. At the very least the public needs to understand that the council threatening to cut off public input into the vastly important issue of At the very least the public needs to understand that the council threatening to cut off public input into the vastly important issue of police oversight.
—Doug Paul Davis reporting