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Future uncertain for Columbia Citizens Police Review Board one month after suspension


A month has gone by since the Columbia City Council suspended the work of Columbia's Citizens Police Review Board following a series of contentious meetings.

And the board's future remains uncertain.

The board was created to provide an independent process to review perceived misconduct committed by Columbia Police Department 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.

The board will only be meeting if necessary to review an appeal. City spokeswoman Sydney Olsen said when meetings are scheduled, the meeting information will be on the city's website.

Board chair Rhonda Carlson said members are awaiting an assessment from the city council. "We did receive a letter from the city counselor, telling us that until the city council decides how and what we are going to do, we are just basically on hiatus until we have a case," Carlson said.

Carlson said the board asked the council to make a decision about the board and "it's their direction that we should follow, not ours to decide."

Carlson said she can't say what exactly led to the decision to temporarily suspend the board, but she cited the high turnover rate among board members and communication issues. The board has three positions open after resignations. Carson said she believes that the city is interviewing people to fill those empty seats.

The board has no complaints to review and according to Carlson, they have not been receiving complaints as they used to before the COVID-19 pandemic. If a complaint is made, the city will give the board options for a date they can meet. Once a date has been established that at least most of the board members can attend, the board will meet confidentially to review the complaint. Reviews include looking over the complaint, policy and reviewing body cam and dashboard video of the incident. Complaints can be made here.

Carlson said she hopes "we could find a way to move forward peacefully, and if the folks that they're talking to feel like there's a need for change, then I'll follow whatever direction that they want us to go."

Article Topic Follows: Columbia City Government
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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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