Today, the Akron Unit of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (Akron NAACP) held a press conference to address the community-led charter amendment proposal seeking to improve police-community relations through the creation of a Citizens’ Police Oversight Board for the City of Akron, and guidelines to improve police-community relations.
View the Press Conference Recording at www.facebook.com/TheFreedomBLOC >>
The charter amendment proposal is the culmination of years of discussions within the community around the topic of police accountability. Akron’s police auditor role was created in 2007, and since then, it has had many challenges – part-time staffing, a lack of access to information, and a lack of independence from the rest of city government. In recent years, there has been renewed focus on improving the police oversight role – both from within city government and across the community. The killing of Jayland Walker on June 27, 2022 has underscored the need to move from discussion to action, and to bring a proposal before voters for their consideration on the November 2022 ballot – as occurred in Columbus in 2020 and Cleveland in 2021.
The charter amendment was carefully drafted by a number of community leaders, relying on a variety of recommendations and reports, including Akron City Council’s Reimagining Public Safety initiative and the City of Akron Racial Equity and Social Justice Task Force. Akron NAACP, Freedom BLOC, and other community organizers gathered 7,000 signatures to put the amendment on the ballot, more than 2.5 times the number of required signatures.
The proposed Charter amendment would provide the following:
- Codifying the city’s commitment to policing practices that include de-escalation techniques, race and implicit bias training, non-lethal force options, community policing skills, mediation and conflict management, and mental health crisis intervention techniques.
- Establishing a Citizens’ Police Oversight Board consisting of nine members. Members would be representative of the diverse communities within the City of Akron, and the amendment seeks to ensure the representation of a variety of perspectives, including that of law enforcement.
- Providing adequate staffing and funding for an Office of the Independent Police Auditor (OIPA). The OIPA and the Board will provide external and independent oversight and review of policing practices within the City of Akron, Ohio. The Independent Police Auditor will be appointed and removed by the Board, without direct involvement from City Council or the Mayor.
The proposal will not provide the Board or the OIPA with any power to control police practices or discipline, but nonetheless represents transformational change. It would allow for citizen oversight of Akron Police Department investigations into misconduct and citizen recommendations around Akron Police Department policies and procedures – like vehicle chase or traffic stop practices.