Monday, June 07, 2010

Consultant meets with public on Police Citizens Review Board

Throughout Duluth five forums, called Building Trust Between the Community and the Police were held in the month of May. They served to gather more information to create an effective citizens review board for the police department. Duluth/Community Police satisfaction surveys were distributed in previous months and so far over 1000 have been returned.

Consultant Eileen Luna-Firebaugh has been hired as an consultant in helping the city set up an effective review board. Luna-Firebaugh said that is a respectable sampling for a city our size.
At a meeting on May 18 over 30 people met at the Central Hillside Community Building. The audience was curious to what makes the most effective model for a civilian review board.

Luna-Firebaugh immediately said it depends on what each city wants. The right match for Duluth will be the model that is well used. Chief Ramsay said he was skeptical of a civilian review board for the Duluth Police at first, but the more he looked into it he found, the civilian review board, would be a “tremendous asset.”

A community member, Gabe Green, said, “Building healthy relationships between people of color and the police is an urgent need.”

Ramsay said he welcomes invitations to events at black churches and other events where police officers and community members can mix it up in some positive ways.

Officers in some police departments write up their police reports in local coffee houses so people see police around town in some regular interactions, not just during an incident.

In a separate interview, Donna Ennis, who is co-chair of the Duluth American Indian Commission, said, “Most police departments are very suspicious of a community’s efforts at police accountability but in Duluth’s case the Police Chief has been at the table from the beginning”

Board members and community members will be an important educational force in letting high school students and others know about some of the constructive review work our police are taking on.

The public can take the survey on the opposite page and mail it in. Call 726 -1665 for more information on this project or to take the survey online visit: