AKRON, Ohio — The Akron NAACP held a press conference on Tuesday to address “a community-led charter amendment proposal seeking to improve police-community relations through the creation of a Citizens’ Police Oversight Board” for the city.
You can rewatch the entirety of the press conference in the YouTube player at the bottom of this story.
“The charter amendment proposal is the culmination of years of discussions within the community around the topic of police accountability,” NAACP officials noted in a press release.
Tuesday's press conference 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.
“The charter amendment was carefully drafted by a number of community leaders, relying on a variety of recommendations and reports, including Akron City Council's Reimagining Public Safety initiative and the City of Akron Racial Equity and Social Justice Task Force,” officials said. “Akron NAACP, Freedom BLOC and other community organizers gathered 7,000 signatures to put the amendment on the ballot, more than 2.5 times the number of required signatures.”
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.
3News' Lydia Esparra was able to talk to Judy Hill, a member of the Akron NAACP, who said that they've gained enough signatures to bring the Board proposal up for a vote on November's ballot. They received over 7,000 signatures.