Lawrence City Commission to consider draft ordinance updating Community Police Review Board’s duties

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Note: This article was originally published May 6. The Lawrence City Commission deferred this agenda item, so we are reposting this article with updated meeting dates and agenda links.

Lawrence’s Community Police Review Board would see its duties expanded in some ways under a draft ordinance the Lawrence City Commission will consider Tuesday. 

City staff members have prepared the new draft following years of work and delays in modifying the role of the CPRB. 


The current ordinance that outlines the CPRB’s duties only allows members to review community members’ appeals of LPD’s decisions in complaints about bias-based policing. That’s such a limited scope that the board members have not reviewed any actual appeals since the CPRB was formed in 2018.

The ad hoc Community-Police Oversight Work Group was tasked with evaluating the process to handle complaints against the Lawrence Police Department. They were asked to make recommendations for the complaint process and the CPRB’s oversight of those complaints.

Lawrence city commissioners in February asked city staff to review all the work group’s recommendations and bring back more information and guidance. 

Here are some key changes in the proposed draft ordinance the commission will consider on Tuesday: 

The board’s duties would include reviewing appeals of all Level 1 and Level 2 complaints. Those are defined in the draft ordinance as follows: 

“Examples of misconduct that would support a Level 1 Complaint include criminal conduct, corruption, dishonesty or untruthfulness, Racial or Other Bias-based Policing, the use of excessive force, an unlawful search and seizure, a false arrest, a violation of civil rights, and similar misconduct.”

“Examples of misconduct that would support a Level 2 Complaint include inappropriate conduct that, while a violation of general orders, policies, or procedures of the Department, would not constitute a Level 1 Complaint.”

The Lawrence Police Department would notify complainants of the disposition of their complaints, and the draft extends the time complainants would have to appeal those dispositions to 28 days rather than 14. 

The board and a number of other city offices and departments would be able to receive complaints from members of the community; however, complaints must be forwarded to the police department within three business days. 

Board members would go through training on racial or other bias-based policing, fair and impartial policing, law enforcement use of force, deescalation techniques, diversity, equity and inclusion, the complaint and appeals process, and the Kansas Open Meetings Act and Kansas Open Records Act within 90 days of joining the CPRB. 

If a complaint is appealed, the board would receive “as complete a copy of (LPD’s) investigative file as possible”; the current ordinance states that the board shall receive the file “in its entirety,” though both versions include a number of exemptions that can be withheld from the board. Exemptions under the draft ordinance include portions of the file “where disclosure would have an adverse impact on any pending criminal investigation, criminal prosecution, or civil action, or where disclosure would expose the City to liability.” 

The current ordinance also states that redactions to the file “shall be approved in advance by the City Attorney”; the draft ordinance drops that requirement.

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The draft does not change limitations regarding prospective CPRB members’ criminal records. Some previous CPRB members had voiced concerns that the perspectives of people with lived experience in the criminal legal system would be missing from the board. 

The draft would codify that the board should receive reports from LPD regarding complaints. Chief Rich Lockhart started giving the CPRB regular reports on complaints in 2022, shortly after he began in his role. The CPRB would also review any race-based trends available from complaints received. 

The draft clarifies that only the complainant “who was the subject of the Law Enforcement Action” may appeal dispositions of complaints. 

Much of the language of the ordinance has also been revised throughout, with the goal of making the law easier to understand, according to the meeting agenda item.

The city will implement some of the work group’s other suggested changes, though not necessarily through the ordinance, according to information in the meeting agenda. For instance, the city’s Equity and Inclusion Department will assist people with filling out the complaint form when requested. 

The CPRB also will not review appeals of dispositions in Level 3 infractions, which include allegations of rudeness, inadequate police service, profane language and minor traffic infractions. 

“Level 3 infractions are the same types of complaints that any City employee could face as a personnel matter, and police department representatives saw this level of complaint as a personnel matter that should not have more scrutiny than another city employee would have,” the CPOWG’s report stated. 

If approved, the draft ordinance would go into effect Sept. 1. 

Lawrence city commissioners will consider the draft ordinance and more as part of their agenda when they meet at 5:45 p.m. Tuesday, May 14 at City Hall, 6 E. Sixth St. The meeting will also be livestreamed on the city’s YouTube channel,

See the full meeting agenda at this link. See the draft resolution and further documentation at this link.

People may submit written public comment until noon the day of the meeting by emailing The commission also hears public comment in person and via Zoom during meetings. Register for the Zoom meeting 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.

Related coverage: Lawrence Community Police Review Board

Lawrence City Commission to consider draft ordinance updating Community Police Review Board’s duties

Share this post or save for later

Lawrence’s Community Police Review Board would see its duties expanded in some ways under a draft ordinance the Lawrence City Commission will consider Tuesday. 


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