ST. LOUIS (AP) — An aldermanic panel discussed a proposed police oversight board St. Louis Monday morning.
A lawyer for the police union said many officers oppose the proposed bill to create a civilian review board. The Public Safety Committee last week considered whether to give additional investigative authority to the planned civilian review panel, which would look into residents' complaints of police misconduct. The city committee didn't vote Thursday on the proposed subpoena powers.
At the hearing, attorney Neil Bruntrager, who also represented Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson, said a civilian review board is acceptable as long as civilian members take a drug test, and can be fired if they commit a felony or leak information to the media. Bruntrager also requested training for civilian members.
“You can sit on the review board for six months with no training. I find that problematic,” Bruntrager said.
Many aldermen disagree with Bruntrager and want the board to have the right to investigate police actions, subpoena witnesses, and recommend possible disciplinary action to the police chief.
“The days of leaving police officers to police themselves alone should be over,” said Alderman Antonio French.
Many residents who attended the meeting said they want any civilian members of the board to be independent of police and political influence.
“The civilian oversight board became an appendage of the mayor or of the chief. There was hardly any independence and they just became rubber stamps,” said Jamala Rogers with Coalition Against Police Crimes and Repression.
Last month, a public discussion on the board ended after audience outbursts led to pushing and shoving among some participants.
The bill was put forward after the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown. He was unarmed when a Ferguson police officer fatally shot him in August.