AKRON, Ohio — The Akron City Council will host a special meeting at 2 p.m. on Thursday to formally announce that a charter amendment proposing a Citizens' Police Oversight Board will be put on the November ballot.
According to a release, "signatures, which have been verified by the Summit County Board of Elections, have been submitted to the Clerk of Council petitioning Akron City Council to place a proposed charter amendment on the ballot." In turn, the Clerk has determined that "the submitted petitions are sufficient and, therefore, the Ohio Constitution and the Charter of the City of Akron require City Council to pass an ordinance placing the proposal before Akron electors at the next upcoming general election or special election, as may be required by law."
Earlier this week, Akron's NAACP chapter held a press conference to address its quest for “a community-led charter amendment proposal seeking to improve police-community relations through the creation of a Citizens’ Police Oversight Board." The proposal comes more than two months after Jayland Walker was shot and killed in an incident involving eight Akron police officers during an overnight chase. The situation is currently being investigated by Ohio BCI.
Here's what they’re saying the proposed charter amendment would do in Akron:
- Codifying the city's commitment to policing practices that include de-escalation techniques, race and implicit bias training, non-lethal force options, community policing skills, mediation and conflict management, and mental health crisis intervention techniques.
- Establishing a Citizens' Police Oversight Board consisting of nine members. Members would be representative of the diverse communities within the City of Akron, and the amendment seeks to ensure the representation of a variety of perspectives, including that of law enforcement.
- Providing adequate staffing and funding for an Office of the Independent Police Auditor (OIPA). The OIPA and the Board will provide external and independent oversight and review of policing practices within the City of Akron, Ohio. The Independent Police Auditor will be appointed and removed by the Board, without direct involvement from City Council or the Mayor.
“The proposal will not provide the Board or the OIPA with any power to control police practices or discipline, but nonetheless represents transformational change,” officials said. “It would allow for citizen oversight of Akron Police Department investigations into misconduct and citizen recommendations around Akron Police Department policies and procedures -- like vehicle chase or traffic stop practices.”
Last week, Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan also announced details of a proposed citizen oversight board. You can read full details of that announcement HERE.