Champaign Council Signs Off On Plan For Citizen Review Of Police

 
Chart shown during city council presentation by the Champaign Police Complaint Working Group on how to handle citizen complaints.

Chart shown during city council presentation by the Champaign Police Complaint Working Group on how to handle citizen complaints.

Jeff Bossert/Illinois Public Media

Champaign’s City Council has unanimously signed off on new procedures for citizen review of police complaints, though some members admit the plan isn’t perfect. Council member Matt Gladney says timing of this plan is critical. "I think it's important to at least get this established, even for those who wanted a police board, even if it's not everything they wanted," he said.

“I don’t think compromise is a dirty word," Gladney said. "If we can get this citizen group’s foot in the door, let’s see how it works. Maybe it will need to be tweaked or fine-tuned down the road, and if so, then I would be completely open to that.”

Gladney and council member Michael La Due said they were happy to see the panel allowed for subpoena power of citizens.

"I think that's a level of oversight we haven't enjoyed in the past, and I support that," La Due said. "I think that's crucial. That's a real change. I'm heartened by it."

The police review board, a subcommittee of Champaign’s Human Relations Commission, can make recommendations to the police chief, but they would only be advisory. Champaign’s city police union contract bars the panel from having more authority.

City staff will draft an ordinance for final approval at a later date.

The council heard from four opponents of the plan Tuesday night.

Rebecca Patterson had attended one of meetings held by the Police Complaint Working Group, a group of citizens and city staff, and formed by Police Chief Anthony Cobb, to better address officer complaints. She says they hadn’t properly identified the problem.

“It seems like the problem was trust," she said. "And just creating something to fix trust, you’re not going to come up with the right solution.”

The council also heard from David L. Berg, who has filed two complaints against Champaign Police. He says the review board won’t work, since the Working Group assigned with coming with the review process was initiated by the police department and city staff. 

Story source: WILL