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Columbia Citizens Police Review Board schedules first training session after several-month hiatus


Columbia's Citizens Police Review Board has scheduled two training sessions for the first two weeks of February.

The board was disbanded in August following a series of contentious meetings. The training sessions will be held at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 1 and at the same time on Feb. 8. The meetings will be held at conference rooms 1A and 1B at City Hall.

City of Columbia spokeswoman Sydney Olsen said the board will be conducting an orientation for new members, "to reaffirm their roles."

"It is focused on board operations and topics required for the board to fulfill its role," said Olsen.

The first meeting will focus on discussions on the form of government, Sunshine Law, conflicts of interest and the board's operations and procedures, according to Olsen.

The second training session will provide the history of the board and detail the structure of the Columbia Police Department.

The board was created to provide an independent process to review perceived misconduct by Columbia police officers with the goal of "increasing police accountability to the community and community trust in the police," according to its mission statement.

The board reviews appeals from the police chief's decisions on alleged police misconduct, hosts education programs for Columbia residents and CPD officers, and reviews and makes recommendations on CPD policies.

"I'm going to hope that there's going to be some direction," Boardmember Rhonda Carlson said.

Carlson believes a few City Council members will be in attendance, to help them focus on the direction of the board.

"We serve at the pleasure of the (Columbia City) Council, so they're going to probably give us some direction," Carlson said.

Carlson thinks the board is important.

"The community has to have a voice and to have communication between the citizens and the police. Good, bad, or indifferent," Carlson said. "We review policies, and it has not been happening. And we need to move forward and hopefully in a positive way."

December Harmon was formerly on the board for years but found out recently the board was planning on announcing her removal at the next City Council meeting.

The removals come after Harmon announced her run for the U.S. Senate. CPRB has an ordinance in place that states members cannot run for elected positions. Harmon voiced her concerns over the format of the board prior to its hiatus.

"I was pushing for board reform," Harmon said. "I wanted us to change our board model from an appeals model to an investigative model."

Harmon said despite her removal from the board, she hopes to provide another document to the City Council and the CPRB to discuss how she hopes the board will operate moving forward.

"I am still trying to talk to people and work with people to figure out how best we can still change the CPRB," Harmon said.

Harmon hopes communication will be improved among board members, as well as the board's model.

CPRB does not have an official date for when monthly meetings will pick back up, but Carlson said she thinks it could potentially start again on Feb. 15.

Article Topic Follows: Columbia
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Marina Diaz

Marina is a Multimedia Journalist for ABC 17 News, she is originally from Denver, Colorado. She went to Missouri Valley College where she played lacrosse and basketball, and anchored her school’s newscast.


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