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Citizens Police Review Board eyes changes to police policies

The Citizens Police Review Board plan to submit suggestions for changes to police pl
Meiying Wu
The Citizens Police Review Board plan to submit suggestions for changes to police policies at their upcoming Oct. 11 meeting. Members don't expect any changes until a new police chief is named.

Members of the Citizens Police Review Board said Thursday that they plan to formalize recommendations for some changes to police policies at their Oct. 11 meeting.

The board met to review Police Policy 300, which provides the Columbia Police Department guidelines on the use of force and response to resistance.

However, members said they don’t anticipate any concrete changes until a new police chief is named.

In a meeting that lasted about two hours, the board members discussed the policy in detail and heard from members of the public.

Another work session on Police Policy 447, which provides guidance on the use of body-worn cameras, will be scheduled before the Oct. 11 meeting.

During an incident in May, a man was subdued by two Columbia police officers in front of Harpo’s Bar & Grill. Both officers resigned from the Columbia Police Department shortly after the incident, according to previous Missourian reporting. The conversation continues about their conduct and police policies on use of force.

On Wednesday, the board also discussed its plans to audit complaints made in 2022, with a focus on allegations relating to search and seizure, use of force and discourtesy.

Policy 300 also includes the Columbia Police Department’s definition of de-escalation and what methods may be used in the process. At Thursday’s meeting, board member Brandon Barnes raised concerns with the current wording for instruction on de-escalation.

“There is a large chasm of the definition that maybe the police use for de-escalation versus what the citizen might think is de-escalation,” Barnes said. “I think the language here of de-escalation … (is) not necessarily what a citizen might think of de-escalation.”

The language of chokeholds was also brought up, specifically about how and when officers are permitted to use them. Reece Ellis, chair of the board, said he feels the language should be amended to prohibit chokeholds in all cases.

The meeting dealt heavily with the inability of citizens to directly impact changes to policy.

To make changes to current police policies, officers can submit a formal complaint, according to Adam Ward, the police department’s policy and accreditation officer.

Board member Douglas Hunt emphasized that citizens also have an avenue to make complaints and suggestions for changes of policy.

Ellis announced at Wednesday’s meeting that he will step down as chair in November, but plans to remain on the board.

*Correction: A story published on Page 1 Friday should have said that board member Douglas Hunt noted that the public has avenues to make complaints or suggestions for improvements to police policies.

The Columbia Missourian is a community news organization managed by professional editors and staffed by Missouri School of Journalism students who do the reporting, design, copy editing, information graphics, photography and multimedia.
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