AKRON, Ohio — “I believe this ordinance is the quickest and most effective way to implement a Citizen Oversight Board here in Akron. It meets or exceeds all of the recommendations we received from the Racial Equity and Social Justice Taskforce Report, and with Council’s passage I’m confident we could have this Board up and running in early 2023.”
Those are the words from Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan regarding a proposal for a Citizen Oversight Board, which he presented to City Council on Monday.
“Akron residents have been clear that the City needs more citizen engagement with our Akron Police Department and this Board would provide that as well as more transparency,” Mayor Horrigan added.
The plan comes in the weeks following the deadly shooting of Jayland Walker, who was killed June 27 when eight police officers opened fire amid an overnight chase. That incident remains under investigation by Ohio BCI.
“The idea of a Citizen Oversight Board is one that has been talked about for a long time and I believe Akron is ready for this,” Mayor Horrigan said. “I know there are other thoughts about what the best way is to create this Board, but I think ultimately we all want to get to the same place. We all want a Citizen Oversight Board that is successful and that is embedded into the City’s Charter. And we are all coming at this with the best of intentions for our city.”
According to the proposal, the Board will feature 11 members – six appointed by Mayor Horrigan with the consent of Council and five appointed by Akron City Council.
“The Board will broadly reflect the diversity of Akron and include at least one resident from each ward within the City,” according to a press release from Mayor Horrigan’s office. “It will also include an attorney currently licensed to practice in Ohio, an expert in the field of mental health, an expert in the fields of racial equity and social justice and an expert in the law enforcement profession.”
Editor's note: Video in the player above was originally published in a previous story on Sept. 6, 2022.
Board members would be recommended to complete the Akron Police Department’s citizen academy or any subsequent similar program and / or 40 hours of APD “ride-alongs” within one year of taking office.
So what’s next in the process now that the proposal has been formally introduced to Akron City Council? Here’s the ordinance timeline as provided by Mayor Horrigan’s office:
- Second Reading at Council – Sept. 19, 2022
- Third Reading and Possible Passage at Council – Sept. 26, 2022
- If passed by a super majority (9 members of Council) the ordinance would go into effect immediately, if passed by a simple majority (7 members of Council) the ordinance would have a 30-day referendum period before implementation
- Immediately after passage, the Mayor’s Office would open applications to Akron residents who are interested in being on the Board (must be 18 or older) – Sept. 27, 2022
- Applications would remain open until October 31, 2022
- Mayor Horrigan will present his choices to City Council in Dec. 2022 (given that there have been enough applicants to fill the Board)
- A Board would be in place by the first quarter of 2023
- Mayor Horrigan would then work to create a City Charter initiative to go on the Nov. 2023 ballot enshrining the Citizen Oversight Board into Akron’s Charter