Open Standard Media Player version 1.3
DULUTH-The creation of a “Citizens Review Board” faced resistance from Duluth's police union on Thursday night.Meeting in front of city councilors during a committee of the whole meeting, members of the Duluth Task Force for Improved Community Police Accountability argued the group is needed to listen to complaints from citizens who feel they are not getting anywhere with the department. But union officials say the board would be a waste of money. The estimates coming from the city show the cost could be about $15,000 a year for different clerical costs.Task force members, however, say they have worked five years on the plan and have been open to working with the police union despite the constant conflict. "There's a genuineness of this task force where community has to have a voice and more importantly has to have a say into what happens in the confines of their perspective community,” Xavier Bell, task force member and a part of Community Action Duluth said.The task force wants a board that has six members assigned by the mayor to review complaints citizens say have not been resolved.Duluth police union President Tom Maida says the department already is reviewed by outside agencies including the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, the FBI, and the St. Louis County Sheriff’s Office. "Our officers are very professional,” Maida said. “They act very professional and there are already many levels of oversight to oversee our actions."The body also points to new Minnesota law that would lessen authority given to similar groups.
And some city councilors have other questions. "I'm also very concerned and I think it's very appropriate that we have police on the board,” City Councilor Jennifer Julsrud said. "The police review board needs to hear procedure but the make–up of the board was never intended for it to be equal police officers and community,” task force member and a part of People’s Institute North, Sheryl Boman, said.Group members say an active police presence would undermine the goal of the citizen board which is trying to open communication between Duluth’s oppressed - Natives and Blacks - with authorities.Chief Gordan Ramsay says he supports much of the board motives. The police union says he is already doing enough. "Chief Ramsay has done a good job of establishing a variety of programs to get community members involved and that might be an angle to continue to pursue to keep that going,” Maida said. The task force would also have a goal to put three people of color and three women on it. Councilor Garry Krause hinted he may propose an amendment that could remove that aspiration at their Monday meeting.