Sunday, November 19, 2000

Complaints would go to bureau

The Associated Press

        COLUMBUS — The city police division soon may be changing the way it handles citizen complaints.

        Mayor Michael Coleman has announced a plan to have complaints go through the police internal affairs bureau. Most complaints currently are handled by an officer's supervisor.

        The plan is part of a $1.2 million expansion of the bureau contained in Mr. Coleman's $542 million budget for 2001.

        A similar recommendation was made to Police Chief James Jackson in February 1999, but it didn't get far.

        It was criticized within the division and the Fraternal Order of Police never saw it for official consideration, said Bill Capretta, FOP Columbus lodge president.

        Mr. Coleman presented his plan to the union as part of on- going contract negotiations.

        The proposal comes while the city is fighting a lawsuit filed by the Justice Department over alleged police abuses. Before filing the lawsuit, federal officials offered a settlement that would have required the internal affairs bureau to investigate complaints.

        The Coleman proposal and the federal recommendation have nothing to do with each other, said Councilman Michael Mentel:

        “I think we're honestly trying to move forward on our own. It's an unfortunate appearance to the public, when we were making our own changes to begin with.”


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