Cedar Rapids Citizen Review Board holds first meeting

Published: Jul. 23, 2021 at 4:44 AM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - The Cedar Rapids Citizen Review Board held its inaugural meeting on Thursday.

It came more than a year after The Advocates for Social Justice called for change within policing in Cedar Rapids after the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

The Cedar Rapids City Council approved the board earlier this year, and named its nine members in June.

This board has more than 50 hours of training to complete during the first year. Thirty of those hours need to be done in the first six months of appointment, with an additional 10 hours of training done later in the year. The initial 30 hours of training will be conducted by the Cedar Rapids Police Department, and will cover a range of topics including constitutional law, use of force, and de-escalation. Each member must also accompany a police office for ride-alongs totaling at least 16 hours.

During its first meeting, the board voted in Starlet Smith as Chairperson, and India Snow-Watt as Vice Chairperson.

Smith has spent most of her life in Cedar Rapids, and says she’s passionate about the work the board will be doing.

“I have a son, he’s almost a teenager,” Smith said. “He wants to be a police officer. I’m really good friends with one of the sergeants in the Cedar Rapids police department. I have experienced things, but at the same time I feel like there’s so much good that you can do, working together and partnering with them, so this is a big deal. This is really a big deal.”

The board will receive and review regular reports from the Chief of Police, as well as review complaints of police conduct. It will also work to create a program for community outreach.

Board member Lovar Kidd says he hopes to help create a bridge between the police department and the people they serve.

“It is me fully embracing the role that I feel I need to have in order to ensure that my kids grow up in a city that I love, but also a city that reflects things that it needs to reflect for a diverse community,” Kidd said.

The board will also continue to work with NACOLE, the National Association for Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement.

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