An Erie City Councilwoman is renewing efforts to form a Citizen Police Review Board.
Councilwoman Sonya Arrington says police can’t police themselves and launching a Citizen’s Police Review Board would benefit police and the community. Arrington saying she plans to bring a resolution in front of council by February that calls for the city to create the panel. The purpose of the panel would be to investigate allegations of misconduct by police and recommend appropriate action regarding those complaints.
She says this action would promote a healthy relationship between the police department and civilians. Arrington, who also founded Mothers Against Teen Violence, says, “we definitely need change and I think the community needs to be a part of that change; and this is the first step,” but the police have been left out of the loop. EPD Chief Dacus telling us, “this is not a topic that we’ve spoken about”.
Dacus says there are entities already in place to hold police accountable and because of the state law, a board like this would have access to very little information. Pennsylvania is 1 of 23 states where police personnel records are confidential.
“I don’t know how they would be able to go about imposing it because they can’t. Our officers would not be able to speak to them. Our officers have no obligation to speak to anyone outside of the union or our internal affairs process”.
As far as community relations are concerned, Dacus feels the proof is in the stat’s. “Just with the reduction of crime in the last year by 20 percent, you don’t get a 20 percent reduction in crime without having good relations with the community you serve”.
As far as those entities in place, the Attorney General, the District Attorney and Department of Justice are all charged with investigating misconduct and then to make arrests if necessary.
Also, these review board members typically are paid and must meet certain criteria to be appointed. Arrington says it’s too early in the process to get into those specifics.