Lawrence’s police review board down to 4 members again; new work group to meet soon

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Lawrence’s Community Police Review Board is once again barely a quorum, following the resignation of the recently appointed chair.

Meanwhile, the new Community-Police Oversight Work Group — whose work was supposed to conclude in November, but the process has been delayed — is close to setting their first meeting date.

Jordan Bickford resigned from the CPRB effective Thursday, Assistant City Manager Casey Toomay told the four remaining people on the seven-member board during their meeting.

Bickford’s resignation makes her the eighth CPRB member since February 2022 to step down before the end of the prescribed term. She had just stepped into the role of chair from vice chair following then-Chair James Minor’s resignation in March.

Toomay did not publicly share a reason for Bickford’s resignation during the CPRB meeting, and Bickford did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment Thursday night.

The mayor, currently Lisa Larsen, selects candidates to appoint to the city’s advisory boards, and they are approved with a vote by the Lawrence City Commission. The application to serve can be found at this link.

Community-Police Oversight Work Group updates

The CPOWG is the new work group intended to review the Lawrence Police Department’s current complaint process and make recommendations for the CPRB’s oversight of the complaint process. (Read more on the background at this link.)

Toomay discussed some details of how the CPOWG will function. The group’s meetings will be open to the public; however, most likely only two of the meetings are slated to be “community conversations” that will include opportunities for public comment.

She said the members are in the process of working out when they’ll have their first meeting, likely within the next three to four weeks. Toomay said she was hoping the meeting would be within the month of April, but it might get pushed into the first few days of May.

The city on Sept. 27 entered into a $20,000 contract with a consulting team to facilitate the new work group. The CPOWG was set to meet for the first time in late January, but that meeting was canceled because of lingering questions about membership.

During discussion of other topics Thursday, board members said they wanted to encourage the public to speak up about what changes they want to see going forward.

CPRB member Greg Tempel said people should consider what they don’t like about the current complaint process and ordinance, because those are things that the new work group will need to hear.

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And CPRB member Stephanie Littleton said she hopes people will come out to the CPOWG community conversations and say what they want.

“We have yet to have LPD, LPOA (Lawrence Police Officers Association), community members and our board all together, and it’s going to be critical that everybody has a voice in it,” Littleton said. “At the end of the day, (it’s) what we want to present to the city commission for us to go forward — for our duties, for the complaint review process, all of that — and everybody gets to have a say. But if you don’t show up, if you don’t speak up, then you won’t get to have a say.”

Bickford was expected to sit on the CPOWG as well. It was not immediately clear Thursday whether she would still fill that role, but if not, a resolution the city commission approved last week dictates that the mayor shall recommend a person to fill the vacancy, subject to the approval of the city commission.

The board did not adjourn to an executive session to discuss an appeal of a complaint Thursday as Bickford had requested during the March meeting.

The CPRB meets at 6 p.m. on the second Thursday of each month. Board members plan to vote on a new chair during their next meeting, Thursday, May 11.

The Lawrence City Commission will meet three times before then, meaning new CPRB members could be appointed and approved in the interim.

Read more of our coverage of the CPRB at this link. The city has more information about the board at this link.

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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.

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