Greensboro’s City Council deserves recognition for attacking the issue of police accountability head-on and delivering an array of policy changes that lessen the bark of even some of the city’s professional police antagonists. Taken as a whole, the approved enhancements recommended for the Complaint Review Committee should give citizens increased confidence in the integrity of its police force.
Not that the integrity was at issue to start with. But there exists in the city a strong historical strain of anti-police sentiment among a vocal minority of residents that could not be ignored.
From the department’s perspective, no other city agency and its employees are as heavily scrutinized as the police department. In any agency of its size, employees are going to make mistakes. But due to the intrinsic nature of police power, those mistakes tend to receive immediate and significant attention.
So Mayor Nancy Vaughan and the city council were wise to convene the enhancement committee, which met several times throughout the year, and delivered this past week a set of recommended improvements. Among the most salient, city council members will now each appoint one person to the new Police Citizens Review Board; the board will meet at various locations around the city itself; citizens will be able to initiate complaints at the open meeting, though cases will not be argued on the spot; independent facilitators will be employed to guide residents through the often daunting process.
The new board will not satisfy the department’s most vehement critics, but upon reflection it seems as if the council took the battle for police review as far in the critic’s direction as was possible under state law.
A few ordinance changes are required before the final plan will be in place. These recommendations are in the spirit of openness and modern police administration and as such can only enhance the stability of the city in its search for balance between police power and the liberty of citizens in a free society. !
YES! WEEKLY chooses to exercise its right to express editorial opinion in our publication. In fact we cherish it, considering opinion to be a vital component of any publication. The viewpoints expressed represent a consensus of the YES! Weekly editorial staff, achieved through much deliberation and consideration .