Citizen Review Board to Bring Trust, Accountability

By KBJR News 1

October 2, 2012 Updated Oct 2, 2012 at 9:49 PM CDT

DULUTH, MN (Northland's NewsCenter) - Next week, the Duluth City Council will be voting whether to approve Mayor Don Ness's appointments to the newly created Citizen Review Board.

The board will be tasked with taking and reviewing complaints from the public about police work, and is meant to help build relationships between police and communities.

The board has been years in the making.

It's an idea one nominated appointee says has been around for a couple decades.

"This is an opportunity to kind of build those structures that allow for the police and the community to know each other a little bit better and trust each other more, " said Doug Bowen-Bailey, who was one of the people nominated by Mayor Ness and served on the task force to help create the review board.

Seven board members will take citizen complaints, review and investigate them and decide whether any actions should be suggested.

"These boards, if they are set up right and have the right people involved and if they have the right mission, can be a really affective way to increase the trust and accountability between the police department and the community," said Mayor Ness.

Several cases provided momentum to create a review board.

One involved David Croud, a Native American, whom police attempted to "tase" twice during his arrest for public intoxication.

He died after being taken to St. Mary's emergency room but...

"If it was just one thing, we never would have lasted five years," said Bowen-Bailey.

Bowen-Bailey says, a more recent example, happened in September at the Duluth Detox Center, when a police officer punched a man in a wheelchair.

"There may be questions that communities have about how the police department is handling that, " said Bowen-Bailey.

But it's not only big cases.

"People may say that an officer was rude to me when I was pulled over," said Bowen-Bailey.

Bowen-Bailey hopes officers and community members may learn from small instances too, that don't hit the headlines.

"Really look at the situation and say, you know, what's in the best interest of the public," said Mayor Ness.

Regardless of the review board's suggestions, the Chief of Police still has the final say whether to put those suggestions into action.

After that, the board members will go through thorough training to learn more about law enforcement.

Posted to Web by Jena Pike
jpike@northlandsnewscenter.com