Durham police review board has vacancy, wants to make changes
DURHAM (WTVD) -- Three officer-involved shootings have the Durham Civilian Police Review Board looking to make serious changes in the new year. However, the chairman of the group says he needs the public's help to do that.
A special public meeting is in the works while the group works to fill an empty seat with a new member.
The nine-member board of citizens is appointed by the city manager, and now that board says it wants to hear directly from Durham citizens.
"I know there's been a lot going on about conduct of police officers," said DeWarren Langley, the chairman of the police review board.
Langley is on a mission -- to ease tensions and educate the public.
"The only way we can do that is providing citizens with an opportunity to understand what our board does, what the internal affairs unit of the police department does," said Langley.
Langley knows three recent officer involved shootings could ultimately end up on the board's agenda. The group reviews internal investigations of alleged police misconduct. That's if a citizen files an appeal.
"The board is of the mindset that we want to make sure the board is responsive to what our community needs," said Langley.
However, the review board has long been criticized for having little to no power, but Langley says the group has influence -- a direct line to the city manager and the police chief as well as the ability to make recommendations.
That's why public feedback is critical perhaps now more than ever.
"We're not looking for specific complaints or allegations," said Langley. "We're looking at how, as a community, how would you all like the civilian police review board to operate and what recommendations do you have for changing the way the board operates."
Applications are available online and at city hall for the one vacant seat.
"You have to be fair and impartial," said Langley.
You also have to be ready, Langley says, for the most important part of the job.
"In order for police to do an effective job in policing they must have the respect and trust of our community," said Langley. "That's number one."
Durham citizens can share their ideas at a public meeting on Feb. 26 at City Hall. The time of that meeting is still being worked out.
Meanwhile, the application deadline for the vacant board seat is Jan. 10.
north carolina news, durham county news, local/state, tamara gibbs
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