News Local/State

Champaign Council Approves Formation Of Panel To Study Citizen Police Review Board


The Champaign City Council has given its police department the go-ahead to convene a working group to study the idea of forming a citizen police review board. Council members gave their unanimous consent at a study session Tuesday night.

The idea is one that the city council first considered --- and rejected --- in 2007. But At-large Councilman Will Kyles says the time for the idea has come. And he says he doesn’t mind another panel taking another few months to study the idea before the council makes a decision. Kyles says that’s necessary to arrive at a concept that can win broad community support.

“Or else, people will feel like it’s something that’s basically shoved down their throat. And when that happens, either, A, it doesn’t pass, or B, it passes marginally,” said Kyles. “You want this to be something that everybody is excited about, and then some people can live with. But you don’t want it where you have so many questions.”

Kyles says he expects Champaign Police Chief Anthony Cobb to convene the working group, drawing from the police department, community members, police union representatives and experts with investigative experience.

A citizen police review board would likely serve police and city officials in an advisory capacity --- although Kyles says he’d like it to take an investigative role that includes subpoena powers. However, he says such powers are no guarantee that a police department will see smooth sailing. Kyles notes that Chicago's citizen police review board suboena powers --- which did not save Chicago Police from controversy over its relations with African-Americans, following the shooting by an officer of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald in 2014.