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Police, Felons Excluded From Bloomington Review Board Draft

The final draft of a police citizen review board may leave advocates on both sides of the issue feeling like they have lost something.

The measure going to the Bloomington City Council for a vote Monday prevents people convicted of a felony from being a member of the panel looking at investigations of police conduct. Some advocates including D. Dontae Latson from YWCA McLean County had argued for inclusion at a previous council meeting.

"In our society when you objectify something, when you just turn it into a label, then it is very easy to discard. And that's what we are talking about. We are discarding the people that were here. And the reality is that none of us would be here but for the community. So it's not them, or those people, or felons. They are human beings," said Latson.

The draft also does not allow for police presence on the proposed Public Safety and Community Relations Board (PSCRB), something activists have strongly contended violates the idea of civilian review. Ky Ajayi of Black Lives Matter was one.

"It's not about where you go to get a piece of paper (to file a complaint) but whether the police investigate themselves. They don't trust what happens when they file," said Ajayi.

Regardless which way the vote goes Monday, all sides agree more needs to be done to improve police and community relations.

"Transparency is a difficult thing to pull off. It takes a lot of work," said retired ISU Professor Barbara Heyl at a recent council meeting.

Here's a summary of the Public Safety and Community Relations Board, as shared with aldermen in a pre-meeting report:

The ordinance being proposed for consideration establishes a Public Safety and Community Relations Board (“PSCRB” or “Board”), consisting of 7 members for the purpose of: (1) serving as a citizen advisory committee to the Chief of Police and the City Manager, providing different perspectives on police policy and training that improves police-community interactions; (2) educating the community on the avenues available to citizens to make formal and informal complaints, to assist the community and the police in clarifying and improving procedures related to complaints, and to assure that access to these policies and procedures are open and transparent; (3) adding a resident perspective to the evaluation of civilian complaints, including the timely, fair, and objective review of complaints; (4) identifying perceived deficiencies in police-community interactions that can result in improved interactions and shared understanding; and (5) providing fair treatment to and protect the rights of civilians and police officers.

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WGLT Senior Reporter Charlie Schlenker has spent more than three award-winning decades in radio. He lives in Normal with his family.