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Cedar Rapids Citizens’ Review Board moves closer to a vote

Published: Jan. 26, 2021 at 10:27 PM CST
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - The Cedar Rapids City Council voted unanimously to push forward an ordinance to create an independent Citizen Review Board for Community Law Enforcement on Tuesday.

This proposal comes after months of collaborating with racial justice organizations and collecting community feedback.

“Creating a Citizen’s Review Board is a progressive step that will, I’m confident, help build more trust in our police department. And that will help prevent and solve crimes,” Cedar Rapids Mayor Brad Hart said.

The ordinance outlines who would make up the nine-member board, including having a minimum of five members who are people of color, one must be an attorney, and three from organizations that advocate for racial justice. No police, current elected officials, or city employees can serve.

The Citizen Review Board can recommend discipline for police officer’s actions when investigating complaints of alleged officer misconduct, and will have access to investigative materials.

”They will receive a report from the Chief of police with the results of the professional standard investigation. And that’ll have the findings of fact and evidence and access to body camera footage,” Jennifer Pratt, the community development director for Cedar Rapids, said.

The National Association of Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement also gave input on the proposal. It’s an organization working to start oversight boards across the country. Director of Training and Education Cameron McEllhiney says this board, like the rest, is unique to suit Cedar Rapids

“It will begin the work of building relationships and creating trust in the communities where it may not currently exist,” McEllhiney said.

The ordinance will be read a second time at the council meeting on February 9. Presenters say they hope to adopt the ordinance in February, and start approving board members this summer.

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