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Lawrence Community Police Review Board picks members for police oversight work group

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Lawrence’s Community Police Review Board has selected the three members who will serve on the new Community-Police Oversight Work Group.

The group is part of an ongoing effort to revamp the CPRB. Among its tasks, the work group will examine processes and revise how complaints against Lawrence police officers are handled and reviewed.

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Board members James Minor, Stephanie Littleton and Tonia Salvini said they were interested in serving on the work group. The board approved a motion to name those three as the work group members, with the remaining members of the CPRB as alternates if needed.

Lawrence city commissioners selected five members of the public to serve on the work group and voted to confirm them Tuesday: Alex Kimball Williams; Doris Ricks; Jacqlene Nance-Mengler; Harrison Baker; and Jimmy Calderon. Two members of the Lawrence Police Officers’ Association (police union) and two members of the Lawrence Police Department command staff will round out the work group.

Members of the CPRB have long wanted greater authority than city law currently allows — a scope so narrow that since the board was created in 2018, it has not reviewed a single complaint. The current ordinance only allows CPRB members to review appeals of the police department’s decisions in complaints about bias-based policing. 

Starting in 2020, at the direction of the Lawrence City Commission, board members drafted an ordinance that expanded their duties. But an outside consultant’s review of LPD, completed in May 2021, suggested that the CPRB and police department form a task force to determine the best way to move forward.

The CPRB in May approved a project charter to create the new Community-Police Oversight Work Group, and the city commission approved the plan in June. The work group will review the CPRB’s draft ordinance and assess the existing complaint policies, procedures and systems. 

Assistant City Manager Brandon McGuire said the facilitator for the work group has been selected, but their contract was not yet finalized. He said the facilitator will start meeting with each individual member of the work group first to get an idea of their hopes and goals, and to develop a collective understanding, tentatively beginning later this month or in early September. Shortly thereafter, the group meetings will begin. McGuire said he anticipated five to seven total group meetings, and the city is hoping to complete the work within a four-month timeframe.

McGuire has said he anticipates that work group meetings will be open to the public. He told CPRB members that he thinks the work group will have a virtual option for attendance, but he was hoping for more members to be there in person.

“There’s definitely a human element to this that doesn’t always come through in two dimensions,” he said.

Thursday was board member Marie Taylor’s last CPRB meeting. Board Chair Jenny Robinson also said that Thursday’s was McGuire’s last CPRB meeting, and another assistant city manager, Casey Toomay, will serve as the new staff liaison.

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Mackenzie Clark (she/her), reporter/founder of The Lawrence Times, can be reached at mclark (at) lawrencekstimes (dot) com. Read more of her work for the Times here. Check out her staff bio here.

Related coverage: Lawrence Community Police Review Board

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