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Springs City Council approves Law Enforcement Transparency and Accountability Commission

Public comments heard on Tuesday
Colorado Springs City Hall
Posted at 12:25 PM, Jun 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-24 08:12:51-04

COLORADO SPRINGS — The Colorado Springs City Council passed an ordinance to create a new advisory commission tasked with bringing policy recommendations to the City Council, the Mayor and the Colorado Springs Police Department.

The Law Enforcement Transparency and Accountability Commission was approved Tuesday by the City Council on an 8-1 vote. Councilmember Yolanda Avila was the single no vote. Avila said one of the reasons she voted against the ordinance is because she wanted it to have a bigger bite. "It's like a skeleton proposal, an ordinance, and there's so much more that needs to be discussed to make sure that the citizens who want this have a true voice," said Avila.

The city said the council has already received more than 600 applications since June 17, when the application process for the proposed commission was opened. The deadline for submitting applications has been set for July 1 at 5 p.m.

Applications can be submitted here: https://coloradosprings.gov/policeaccountability.

Those in support of the ordinance said they want people to apply who are level-headed and unbiased, as well as having compassion for the issues they will be addressing. "I'm super excited to see where we're going. I think that this city can make history and be an example to many other states if we play our cards right," said Deja Renee Alexander, who has been behind the idea of a commission since the beginning.

According to the city, the ordinance will require a second vote, which will be made at the City Council meeting on July 14. The city said this does not impact moving forward with the application process once the deadline to submit passes. "This is an issue that has to be met with a sense of urgency. Hearing July 14, for me personally, it doesn't comfort me. I don't think that it comforts my brothers or my sisters here next to me, but at least we got something, we got somewhere. I'm going to take what I can get at the given moment," said Robert Johnson, who is one of the people behind the initial proposal for this commission.

This commission would assist City Council with budget recommendations using data-driven audits of law enforcement performance, provide a platform for both citizens and officers to voice concerns about the police department, recommend policy changes to council, and promote improved understanding between the public and police. "It's great to get the small battles to win the war. But, I know I'm in this for the long haul, and we're just putting a dent in years, hundreds of years of systematic racism. So I mean, it's cool to chip away at it, but we still got a lot to go," said Derrick Matthews, one of the people backing the commission.

Those on the 11-member committee will represent "a cross-section of the racial, geographic, and economic diversity of the City" and "each Council District shall be represented by at least one member of the commission."

Members will serve a maximum of two, 3-year terms after being appointed by a council member.

The council moved forward with a plan last Wednesday that would allow council members to appoint people onto an advisory board, rather than a model where the council president would choose people who have already been selected as options by those behind the proposal.

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