Thursday, May 8, 2003

Police Advisory Committee created

By Michael D. Clark
The Cincinnati Enquirer

MIDDLETOWN - For the first time, citizens will have an advisory committee to work with city police in cases of alleged abuse of power.

Middletown City Council:
• Approved creation of the city's first citizens Police Advisory Committee.
• Hired consulting firm to create the city's first 20-year development plan since 1973.
• Was admonished by Councilman Perry Thatcher to stop bickering.
City Council voted unanimously Tuesday evening to create a Police Advisory Committee. The police chief and council members stressed that move is proactive, not the result of any increase in reports of police misconduct.

"There is no way in this day and age that you can operate a city police department without generating some complaints," Chief Bill Becker told council. "This committee is a matter of establishing trust between the police and the community."

The new committee's composition and guidelines are still to be established. Council is awaiting recommendations from the city manager and Becker, but members said seven residents likely will be appointed to serve terms on the committee.

Becker emphasized that the committee's role will be advisory only, without review powers.

Councilman Robert "Sonny" Hillsaid that police officers who helped create the group had some initial reservations, but now "the officers themselves say they kind of like it."

Mayor David Schiavone said the board will "give citizens another opportunity to bring concerns about policing and treatment" to the attention of city officials.

In other action, council unanimously approved an initial contract of about $130,000 to Michigan-based McKenna Associates, a community planning consulting firm, to study and create the city's first 20-year plan since 1973.


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