The DeKalb City Council is backing a plan to create a civilian police review board.
Council members Monday voiced support for creating a five-member board of DeKalb residents appointed by the Mayor and approved by the Council to serve two-year terms.
Using all available evidence and with the ability to request testimony, the board will review closed investigations into police use of force cases to make recommendations on whether the investigation was thorough and objective and if any department policies should be changed.
The board will also monitor the department’s training, and receive citizen complaints against sworn officers and recommend whether there should be an investigation and/or reconciliation.
Along with the Council, Fifth Ward Alderman Scott McAdams believes residents want to see a board like this.
“There’s a lot of support for this idea in the community,” said McAdams. “They want the accountability of it, and they want to be able to trust our police department.”
McAdams notes there are some people who believe the program does not go far enough, but he says the proposed board is a great first start and can always be tweaked later.
City Manager Bill Nicklas believes the proposal meets the goals of transparency and accountability, noting being a DeKalb Police officer will be one of the few jobs where your work is reviewed by a panel of the people you serve.
“You need to be accountable for everything you do, and you have to do this in the eyes of the people you serve,” said Nicklas.
The proposal was created with input from multiple groups, including local community leaders and social activists, FOP Lodge 115 and the City’s Human Relations Commission, and Police Chief David Byrd says the review board will be embraced by the Police Department.
“This is not something that we have an issue with. We want the transparency,” said Byrd. “I have all the faith in the world in my police officers. I know they do a great job.”
Creation of the review board will come back to the City Council for a vote, providing more time for public input.
Photo: DeKalb Police Chief David Byrd told the City Council Monday that the civilian police review board will be embraced by the Police Department.