Bloomington’s police review board has determined the city’s police department followed protocols when it voided a drunk driving ticket in 2016 but called for the city to strengthen its notification policy.
The Public Safety and Community Relations Board issued the unanimous ruling Wednesday. The complaint was only the second to reach the PSCRB since the city created the seven-member panel in July 2017 to address concerns about the need for greater accountability for police officers in their interactions with the public.
The first complaint was filed in early 2019. The panel found the officer acted properly.
The most recent complaint stems from an incident in March 2016. An officer issued a DUI citation on a suspicion of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol following an accident. After the suspect went to Advocate BroMenn Medical Center and was later transferred to a Peoria hospital, the officer realized he had to wait for toxicology results before issuing the citation.
The officer voided the initial ticket, but the man was still in the hospital at the time. He didn’t find out until he appeared in court.
“It was kind of a comedy of errors,” board chairman Art Taylor said. “Under normal circumstances had an individual not been transported to a different location from here to Peoria, the individual probably would have had notification immediately.”
The suspect was later charged with drunk driving based on the lab results and pleaded guilty to the charges.
The commission approved a recommendation to the police department that it implement a policy to ensure notification when a citation is voided. The complaint was filed in late 2019 and the board discussed it during a closed session in January.
Civilians may seek the PSCRB’s third-party review if they are unsatisfied with how the department handled the initial complaint against an officer.
BPD reports a drop in the number of complaints it has received from 20 in 2018 to 11 last year.
Taylor said he suspects officers’ use of body cameras has helped trim that number, but he also believes the commission’s watchdog role has bolstered accountability.
Taylor said the PSCRB continues to demonstrate its value and will remain a part of the community conversation about police officer relations, despite handling just two complaints in two years.
“We feel very good in our own existence, but we are also mindful of the fact that we need to be able to look at ourselves very critically and make sure we are serving the purpose for which we were put in place for,” Taylor said.
Bloomington Police say they have taken one civilian complaint so far in 2020.
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