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Akron city leaders and activists push for police civilian review board, disagree on how it should become law

Activists and city officials are both interested in the independent review board, the disagreement is about how it should be passed into law.

AKRON, Ohio — The city of Akron is taking a step toward transparency. Mayor Dan Horrigan's office is proposing a police civilian review board that would allow citizens and police outsiders to hold officers accountable

A five-page document reveals the city of Akron's plan to increase police accountability with a civilian review board, including releasing camera footage within seven days of a deadly force incident and releasing all the footage no later than 30 days after.

The proposal was created following recommendations from a task force made up of citizens from across the community.

"We'd gotten that report in the end of February, beginning of March and have been looking at a lot of models across the state and really across the country," Horrigan told 3News on Tuesday.

Horrigan says he'd like to see it up and running by November of 2023, realizing not everyone is on board. However, he says Akron Police Chief Steve Mylett has been supportive.

"Listen, there's a number of opinions out there, some supportive, some not. We've taken a significant amount of input from the community over the last year, year and a half, probably two years. And these are not new, they're across the country," Horrigan said.

A civilian review board would take police conduct issues outside of the department and have a separate board analyze behavior and discipline.

There are many different models out there and Horrigan says they've been looking at Cleveland, Cincinnati and Columbus' versions.

Activist and Freedom Bloc leader, Reverend Ray Greene Jr., says having the proposal approved by council doesn't take it far enough.

"My first problem with the proposal is it's not a charter amendment," Green Jr. said. He adds that the board needs to be done correctly and believes that it should come down to a vote of the people, not just council.

"We need a charter amendment that makes sure no matter who's the mayor, no matter who's the city council, it's written in law, in our city's constitution," Greene Jr. said.

Horrigan says he's open to a measure establishing a civilian review board going before voters, but only after it's approved by council. He added that the version he's proposing doesn't cause issues with the city's collective bargaining agreement with the police union.

Greene Jr. says that agreement with the police union shouldn't take precedent.

"The charter trumps any collective bargaining agreement, period. The charter is the law of the city, so if we have to go back and re-negotiate the FOP (police union) contract, so be it," Greene Jr. said.

A civilian review board proposal going before Akron City Council isn't a hypothetical at this point. It is scheduled to be reviewed by council at their next meeting on September 12th. 

You can read the proposal below:

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