Iowa City police review board eager to get more power from City Council

Iowa City police review board eager to get more power from City Council

IOWA CITY, Iowa (KWWL) – One of the commitments the Iowa City City Council made to local protesters last year was that it would give more power to the Community Police Review Board.

The five-member board acts as a second set of eyes on complaints submitted against ICPD.

The board and police chief make separate reports on an incident and say if they believe the officer in question acted inappropriately. The board gets an opportunity to publicly say if it disagrees with the police chief’s assessment but that is all it can do.

CRPB members submitted 13 requests to the City Council in December, for ways they could garner more influence. Among those were: the opportunity to interview officers as part of an investigation, to learn what specific discipline an officer gets if a complaint is sustained, and the ability to call a hearing with the police chief if they want an explanation of his/her assessment.

On May 4, the Council passed first readings of two lesser requests: extending the statute of limitations for a person to submit a complaint from 90 to 180 days, and giving complainants an opportunity to publicly respond after their investigation is complete.

At the board’s annual public forum on Monday night, members said they’re still very eager to see action on some of the larger requests.

“We might all agree that misconduct took place, but we have no idea if the discipline that took place is a one-day administrative leave or if it was termination,” David Selmer said, a CPRB member whose term expires next month.

Their conversation also shifted to the more general topic of restructuring ICPD. Member Orville Townsend said he doesn’t feel the department needs to be torn down and rebuilt, just made more equitable.

“I’m approaching it with the feeling that it’s not perfect,” Townsend said. “Some citizens may be getting fair treatment. The question is, what can we do to improve that situation?”

The CPRB has reviewed 43 complaints against ICPD since 2010. Of those 43, they have disagreed with the police chief’s findings eight times (18%). Selmer says this is not a sign that their body is insignificant, but that ICPD is capable of reviewing itself fairly.

“We do have a chief of police and city manager –throughout various chiefs of police– that have been able to investigate misconduct as it’s raised and do a fair and accurate job,” Selmer said.

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