Washington City Council held first reading of a new ordinance that would create a proposed police review board.
The order states that the review board would be created “to put in place a mechanism for citizen review of allegations and misconduct by police officers with the city of Washington.”
The six-page document is available for public review ahead of a council vote next month. The review board would require a vote of at least four of its members to open an independent investigation into allegations of police misconduct involving municipal police. The order describes the purpose, positions, powers, procedures, police directions and a process for recommending the operation of the review board.
In a virtual meeting Thursday, Mayor Scott Putnam said the proposed review panel would also serve as “a mechanism to protect our police officers from false allegations.”
âWe have a great group of police officers in our department, and I support them 100%,â Putnam said.
In an interview after the meeting, Matthew Karlowsky, president of the Fraternal Order of Police union in Washington, raised concerns about the order.
âWe are all for community policing and good community relations,â he said. “We don’t think we have a bad relationship with the community.”
One of Karlowsky’s concerns is to give the review committee the power to assign personnel and documents, including personnel files, performance appraisals, management files, training files and files. of advice. Karlowsky said access to personnel records and counseling records should be negotiated in their union contract, as these files may contain personal family and residence information or health information protected under HIPAA. .
âThis ordinance was by no means negotiated with the FOP,â Karlowsky said. âWe think it was very rushed. It must be negotiated before being implemented. “
Board members would be required to participate in 15 weeks of training. Karlowsky said the union believes in-person training should be mandatory, not through Zoom. He also said he would like to see members go through their background and credit checks, drug and alcohol tests and a physical agility test.
He also suggested that they take a 30-day hike with the police, during which they would accompany an officer on patrol, training and court proceedings.
âUnless you’ve done this job, it’s very difficult to judge a policeman by how he does his job,â Karlowsky said. “A split second decision – we have to make these.”
If the ordinance passes next month, the city will need to determine how to fund the council and who will sit on it.
âThere’s a lot of work to be done to get this up and running, but it’s the first step in that process,â Putnam said of the first reading.
The review board was proposed last summer by Andrew Goudy, president of the Washington chapter of the NAACP, when he approached the board with concern. Goudy said Thursday he was “fairly confident” that the council will have a majority vote in favor of the ordinance next month.
The council will include Goudy, Putnam, Police Chief Robert Wilson and seven residents who would serve an unpaid four-year sentence. Fourteen candidates expressed their interest in participating.