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Citizens' Police Review Board Dismantled

Notes form City Hall: City Council unanimously passes motion to disband (or to keep disbanded) the Citizen Police Review Board during meeting on Tuesday February 11th, 2003.
After a long night of discussion in the City Council meeting, mostly (an hour and a half) pertaining to an application to modify a property at 600 Meder Street, the Council passed its resolution to end the Citizens' Police Review Board.

Among those testifying against this action were CPRB Chair Mark Halfmoon, former Mayor Christopher Krohn (who asked for an extension of the timeline and reassessment of the effectiveness of CPRB) and HUFF spokesman Robert Norse. Halfmoon spoke first, for about twenty minutes, voicing concerns that this action would greatly harm the civil liberties of the community, most specifically in the areas of racial profiling, and police misbehavior. Halfmoon also spoke of the need for a "grassroots movement of the people to monitor the police," and that even after the CPRB is dismantled, there will be a movement to do so.

After Public Comment and statements, Halfmoon, Norse, and all speakers that had voiced solidarity with CPRB stood up and left the room, presumably in demonstration against the verdict that was sure to come.

Despite Norse's statement that this action signified a "progressive shutting down of debate" and that the move to an auditor system of review would be "more expensive, less transparent and not community based," the Council members Ed Porter, Tim Fitzmaurice, and Mayor Emily Reilly voiced desire to continue to listen to community voices as part of the police review process. Mayor Reilly invited the public to call her office to schedule appointments to discuss a greater community involvement.

After a series of statements by Council members, (made "for the record,") the motion was passed unanimously. For more information on the issues of the CPRB, see the earlier published articles on this site.
 
 


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Police board falls victim to budget ax

Police board falls victim to budget ax

<www.santacruzsentinel.com/archive/2003/February/13/local/stories/08local.htm>

February 13, 2003
By DAN WHITE
Sentinel staff writer

Angry members of the Citizens’ Police Review Board couldn’t stop the
council from taking a final, decisive vote to cancel their group
Tuesday night.
CPRB members had hoped the council would delay action for three
months so they could have time to show that the group, long
accused of being weak and mostly symbolic, was gaining efficiency
and power.
The council cited budget concerns as the primary reason for cutting
most of board’s $90,000 annual budget. Group members said the
council could have found the money by slashing part of the city’s
$21.2 million public safety budget.
Council members say replacing the group with a paid, contracted
auditor who answers to the city manager is more efficient and less
costly.
Activists, however, say the council is being undemocratic,
substituting civilian control with a lawyer hired by the city.
The group was set up 10 years ago to address complaints about
alleged police misconduct.
Mark Half Moon, the current chair, said he’s now the leader of a
group in exile. He said the council claimed to be “progressive folks”
but gave far too much support to police and short-changed social
services.
Half Moon said he found it striking that “more established” members of
the community convinced the council to roll back a decision to shut
the Harvey West Pool, yet the CPRB and supporters can’t sway the
council to change its mind about their group.
Councilman Scott Kennedy was one of the people who helped craft
the ordinance that created the CPRB in the early ’90s. Last week he
said the group had done some good and improved the police
department but that “negative” activists who attend CPRB meetings,
such as Robert Norse, clouded the atmosphere.
He said that while CPRB members say the decision was done in
haste, there has been public discussion as far back as 2001 about
rolling back the group.
Members of the CPRB take issue with arguments that its meetings
are a venting forum for people who dislike cops. Critics, including
cops, say members exaggerate their stories of tensions between
civilians and police.
Norse and supporter Bernard Klitzner derided the council for its
decision Tuesday. Klitzner accused the council of trying to cover up
police brutality and said it willfully disbanded the group because the
group was getting stronger and was getting closer “to exposing the
truth.”
The council also heard from ex-mayor Christopher Krohn, who
apologized for refusing at the last meeting to stop talking after
repeated entreaties from Mayor Emily Reilly.
Krohn said the council would be wise to delay the vote, “and
convene a committee to look at the good, the bad and the ugly of
civilian oversight.”
The CPRB is often derided by frustrated residents who say it lacks
real power to address complaints about police.
Half Moon maintains the board was set up by a half-hearted
ordinance that forces members to rely on “one-sided” police
information when making its findings.
Councilwoman Cynthia Mathews said the CPRB was “a
well-intentioned effort. Over time it failed to meet expectations.” She
also said it was expensive.
Councilman Mike Rotkin said group members say they are hampered by
a weak ordinance but that it has failed to exercise some of its power,
such as its ability to conduct independent investigations.
He said the group’s failure to carry out investigations has been
frustrating at times when CPRB review could have “put rumors to rest”
in controversial police cases.
-----------
Contact Dan White at dwhite (at) santa-cruz.com
 

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