News Local/State

Champaign City Council To Consider ‘Working Group’ To Study Police Citizen Review Board


The Champaign City Council considered and rejected setting up a citizen police review board in 2007. Now, at a Tuesday night study session, it will hear a proposal to study the idea again --- through a “working group” set up by the police department.

A memo to the city council prepared for the city manager's office by Champaign Police Deputy Chief John Swenson and Chief Anthony Cobb proposes that the Chief of Police form a panel of police personnel, representatives of the Fraternal Order of Police, persons with investigative experience, and interested citizens, to study the different types of citizen police review boards.

Those types include the advisory model, where the panel makes non-binding recommendations before the police chief makes a decision on a misconduct case.  Champaign’s current complaint process follows this model; however, it is conducted by the city’s Community Relations Office, and not by a separate board.

Then there’s the appellate model, which Urbana uses, in which the panel looks at cases that are appealed after the police chief’s ruling.

Under the investigative model -- used by Chicago and other large cities --- Police Review Boards use an investigator to look into alleged police misconduct in-depth, sometimes using subpoena powers.

And under the auditor model, an independent auditor looks at, not the misconduct case itself, but whether it was handled properly.

The police memo to the council says Champaign Police have strengthened their complaint process in recent years, but that a citizen police review board could increase transparency and creditability. However, the memo to the council states that, according to research, the establishment of a citizens review board does not appreciably change the rate of sustained findings in police misconduct cases.

Calls for revisiting the idea of a citizen police review board in Champaign increased after the 2009 police killing of teenager Kiwane Carrington, and in recent months, the excessive-force lawsuits against former officer Matt Rush.