AKRON, Ohio — Plans to create a citizen oversight board in Akron were released late Tuesday morning, coming two months after 25-year-old Jayland Walker was shot and killed by eight officers amid an overnight chase.
The long-term goal includes creating a Nov. 2023 ballot initiative, which Mayor Horrigan’s office says “would permanently enshrine the citizen oversight board as an amendment to the city charter."
Mayor Horrigan’s office says the proposed framework of the Board would be as follows:
- Mission: To review local policing policies and procedures of the Akron Police Department, to engage in community outreach and facilitate meaningful communication between the citizenry and APD, and to act in an advisory capacity to the City government in connection with citizen oversight of APD.
- Composition: The Board will have 11 members, appointed by the Mayor only with the consent of Council. The Board will broadly reflect the diversity of Akron and include at least one resident from each ward within the City.
- Qualifications: Every member of the Board must be at least 18 years of age and a resident of the City of Akron. After appointment to the Board, members will strive to have completed APD’s citizen academy (or any subsequent similar program) and/or completed forty (40) hours of APD “ride-alongs” within one year of taking office.
You can read the full proposal in the document below:
“In addition to the creation of the Board, the legislation would also create an Office of the Inspector General (OIG) to be overseen solely by the Board,” according to the plan. “The OIG would consist of a full-time Inspector General, an Assistant Inspector, and an Administrative Specialist. The OIG would provide support functions to the Board as they conduct their work. The OIG’s duties would include managing Board records and accounts, facilitating meetings, conducting review and research, and generating reports, presentations, and public-facing dashboards/platforms. The authority to direct the OIG would be delegated solely to the Board.”
Mayor Horrigan is expected to present the legislation to Akron City Council when they reconvene.
“If passed by Council, the Citizen Oversight Board would receive, refer and monitor citizen complaints of the Akron Police Department (APD), routinely assess and make recommendations on the quality and effectiveness of APD’s hiring, training, investigatory and disciplinary processes and outcomes, and collect community input and facilitate police-community communication,” according to Mayor Horrigan’s office.
Mayor Horrigan and city leadership say they have taken citizen oversight recommendations of the Racial Equity and Social Justice Taskforce under careful consideration, while also reviewing a variety of oversight models from cities across the country.
Plans for a citizen review board were previously discussed during a city press conference back on July 18.
“This is something that our community has been talking about for quite some time now," said Akron City Council President Margo Sommerville.
Editor's note: Video in the player above was originally published in a previous story on July 18, 2022.
She said it's believed "this is the best pathway forward" for the community.
“The board will provide an independent community voice to the mayor, city council and also the chief of police in reviewing citizen complaints of the Akron police officers, analyzing public safety patterns and trends related to those complaints and regularly engaging with the community," Sommerville added.
Last week, a group marched in Akron to “demand transparency and accountability from Akron’s officials" regarding the Walker shooting.
Police say Walker had fired a shot at one point during the June 27 vehicle pursuit, but was unarmed at the time officers opened fire as the chase continued on foot. A gun was later found in Walker's vehicle, according to police.
The shooting is currently under investigation by Ohio BCI.