, 209 tweets, 19 min read
Hey, guys, coming to with you a special Thursday night convening of Boulder city council. This study session was moved to accommodate Yom Kippur.
Tonight we'll hear the recommendations of the police oversight civilian task force. And get an update on the muni.

I have no stories to post bc I've only been writing election content for the past 6 weeks. But I'm almost done! Only two candidate profiles, 3 issue stories to go!
I'd actually like to take this opportunity to ask you for some $$. Not for me: I've been paying to get all my content translated into Spanish. I've got 12 of 14 candidate profiles done already, plus one-pagers on the issues, political groups and candidate positions.
But I need a little more cash to finish translation and to print and distribute copies to low-income neighborhoods (who have poor access to the internet). Give what you can! gofundme.com/f/voter-guide-…
VoteBoulder.co is going live this weekend :) I'll be posting content there that now lives at BoulderBeat.news. Check it out if you haven't already, and share it with your friends.
OK, let's get down to business. Here's the presentation from the task force: www-static.bouldercolorado.gov/docs/BPD_Task_…
Getting started. Task force is acknowledging that the land we're on right now used to belong to indigenous people's. They did this last time as well.
Presenting tonight are Shawna Rae Passalacqua, Todd Conklin, Jr. and Michele Danae

Council visited this Sept. 10. Here's the Twitter thread from that meeting: threadreaderapp.com/thread/1171570…
Fairly full chambers for a study session. A few ppl in the back row holding up signs.
The task force's recommendations are aiming to solve these problems: A lack of trust in the current investigative processes for alleged misconduct of officers, and displeasure with the current oversight group.
A refresher on the types of oversight the task force studied:
Investigation-focused: These groups investigate complaints against officers, either to complement or replace internal investigations. They often serve as the intake for complaints and conduct interviews of officers, witnesses, etc. Sometimes have the power to subpoena evidence
Review-focused: These groups evaluate internal investigations, hear appeals, hold public forums, make recommendations for further investigation and generally do community outreach
Auditor/monitor-focused: Professional staff serve independent of the police dept with a focus on “large-scale, systemic reform.” Functions can include public reporting, review of internal investigation practices and other policies, etc.
Most communities do a hybrid
The task force is recommending a hybrid of auditor/monitor model and community oversight panel with a police liaison.

The city would need to hire a full-time position for that auditor/monitor and replace the current oversight group.
The group and auditor/monitor would both review misconduct allegations/investigations and take a broader look at police policies.
The majority of the task force recommends this, but the group is going to present a second recommendation as well.
RE: the panel. It will have 11 members and have similar qualifications to the task force (POC, LGBTQ, person who has been incarcerated and person who has experienced homelessness)
Reminder: There isn't an unhoused representative on this task force.
Panel would: Review investigations, make recommendations to level of discipline once investigation is complete

Suggest policy improvements
The auditor/monitor would analyze data and make recommendations to police department
For complaints of misconduct: They would go to the internal affairs sergeant inside the police dept. first, who would then notify the auditor/monitor.

Complaints could be made a number of ways.
"Auditor/monitor will be present through all investigations," regardless of alleged misconduct type, Conklin says.
The auditor/monitor would explain the results/recommendation of internal investigations to the oversight group, but ultimate power to discipline would still lie with the police chief.
Pros of this: The auditor/monitor is "independent from" but in partnership with police dept.
Complaints can be made outside the police dept
Auditor/monitor won't be located inside the police dept, can make policy recommendations after analyzing data, policies
More pros to the oversight panel: Adds transparency, more inclusive, reps from groups historically impacted by bias, builds upon current system

Task force recommends those members NOT have to live in Boulder, but to have strong ties here, so that it can have greater diversity.
Now council qs on this model
Nagle: Would auditor/monitor be required to have any experience/background from the police side or any first responder experience, EMT, etc.?
Conklin: I think that could be a plus. We'd want them to have experience working with legal system, community outreach, etc.
Morzel: What kind of person would you be looking for?
Conklin: Will be defined once you pick a model, but someone with strong investigative experience, who can work with police and community
Brockett: What role would city council play in all of this?
Conklin: In this model, role we've defined is that council would select various nonprofits to send representative to a selection committee for the panel. "As of now, that is the role we've set out for council."
Brockett: Are we imagining any oversight of the oversight panel? A lot of issues, council is where the buck stops.
Conklin: We've set it up so that the auditor/monitor is a check on the panel and the panel is a check on the auditor/monitor. They balance each other out.
Jones: Auditor/monitor can make policy recommendations. Do you want them to go to council or the police chief (who reports to city manager)?
Conklin: In order for any oversight to work, everything has to be publicly reported. It would be good to have recommendations reported to council. That could be included in the model.
Yates: Explain your analysis, the volume of work you think the auditor/monitor might engage in. Is this full-time, half, or two full-time positions?
Conklin: Those in favor of this model viewed it as full-time, bc they need to investigate complaints and doing larger work of analyzing data, making recommendations, holding community engagement events, etc.
Passalacqua: Additional staff to support would be wonderful as well.
Morzel: That was my concern. This is a huge position for one person. The last thing you want to do is burn out this person.
Morzel asks a q about the next model, so that will be addressed later.
Morzel: How do you see an assistant supporting the auditor/monitor?

Passalacqua: That's something to explore, but there is plenty of work to be "passed on to support staff."
Brockett: We're hiring like a data analyst position. How might that work with this?
That was to Jane Brautigam.
Brautigam: They would report to IT, but their assignment would be to work on police data. They'd need to be familiar with algorithmic bias.
"The employee for now will be working 100% on police data."
Brockett asks task force if they have anything to add to that.
Passalacqua: Task force recognizes that the collection of police data is rooted in white supremacy and bias. We'd like that data collection person to undo some of that harm that is already implicitly engrained. "I think an anti-bias approach would be quite significant."
Jones: A whole lot of the success of this model depends on hiring a really good person. How do we make sure there's checks and balances and supports bc there isn't the perfect person out there?
Passalacqua: "It's something we've talked about at length. There may be a perfect person out there. We have to look for that person."
There are ppl who are doing this current work in other municipalities who may like to shift and work on it here. "Somebody can be found."

"We've talked about that person hopefully being a person of color."
"There are resources available to us to do that search. Sometimes that takes time. We'd prefer it not be rushed."
Jones: I didn't mean to be un-optimistic. Having so much rest on one person as opposed to lots of ppl or the panel, just provides more resiliency in the system.
Carlisle: What did some of the minority report in terms of choosing this model? It was not unanimous.
Denae: There were concerns that having one person working so closely with the police dept would "create bond and bias." Having it all on one person to say 'There's no bias' is a lot.
Passalacqua: We're leading with the strengths of those models. Even though there is the numbers on that majority preferring one, there is support for both models among the task force.
"We think both of these models are robust and could serve the city well."
Morzel: There was support for some combination of the two models, right?
Passalacqua: Many communities do a hybrid, if you want to pull elements from one to another, I think that is your purview. We feel very strongly there are some amazing, beautiful elements that would serve very well.
Jones: Both the ones you're presenting are hybrids. We could further hybridize?

Yes, task force says.
Conklin: We made sure the auditor/monitor would not be the fulcrum point of the entire model.
Denae is presenting the second recommended model: independent investigation model with police oversight panel.
My computer keeps auto correcting Denae to Dense, so apologies to her if I don't catch them all!
Pros of this model: Independent of police investigations, improved community engagement, analysis of trends and policy, police dept. liaison to panel, complaints can be made outside of the police dept.
Majority of members of the panel should be community members (current group is half police, half community members)
Recruitment would be similar to the first model; but only 9 members is recommended for the size of the city.
A group in Calif. has investigated more than 400 office-involved shootings in 15 years. They work with cities across the country.

Yikes. That is more than two a month!
That would be for investigations. I think the task force is recommending contracting with them...?
Council is asking qs. That was a very short presentation.
Jones: So biggest distinguishing characteristic is around investigations?

Denae: Yes. Community liaison would have a bigger role, researching, etc.
Brockett: Are there local groups we could use for investigations?

Denae: I'm not sure. This is the most well-regarded group. It would be beneficial to have more than one to reach out to as well.
Carlisle: So we have an independent contractor to do the investigations, and community liaison person to educate the community and police?
Denae: They would head the board and also be in charge of holding events to help community engage with police.
Carlisle: You recommended that members of the panel not have to live in Boulder, bc of the cost of living here. Is it within Boulder County, Arvada, Aurora..?
Denae: Just strong community ties: Working here, kids in school here, etc. We didn't put numbers to it.
Carlisle: But they would have some specific stake?
Denae: Correct. It's not like they just went shopping at Whole Foods once.
19 total Class 1 investigations 2014-2018; 58% were someone inside the dept. complaining, the rest were public complaints. (I can't quite define Class 1, but those are the most serious allegations of misconduct, I believe)
2 complaints involved alleged bias
Carlisle: How did you find these?
Passalacqua: This info was provided to task force. We did the summary analysis.
"We found that universally, many ppl would not feel comfortable claiming bias (in complaints) for fear of retaliation," etc. They have been under-reported.
Passalacqua: From lived experience, we can claim there is a fear of retaliation. Ppl on the task force have interacted with police, been incarcerated.
We're discussing the Hillard Heinze report from a few years ago (2014?) It made 12 recommendations, all of which have been implemented by the police dept, Brautigam says.
That was a report that found racial disparities in arrests and police stops in Boulder.
Another one was done using arrest data from 2018, released earlier this year: dailycamera.com/2019/04/30/dat…
Brautigam: One of the things ID'd is that half of the current oversight panel was half cops/half community representatives and those community members were not diverse bc city wasn't seeking them out effectively.
Carlisle: The report had no effect on that panel?
Brautigam: They recommended we do some community engagement, we put that panel together three years ago that is more diverse. They meet with police chief and deputies and do some training.
I think this was the group no one new existed.
Brautigam: "It's not an oversight panel by any stretch of the imagination."
Jones: The report said we're not collecting enough data to quantify or identify bias. One of the recommendations is that we need better data, which we're moving toward now.
Passalacqua: That group was all white and highly educated. "The lived experience wasn't there."
The engagement panel and the current oversight panel, to be clear. All white.
Carlisle: We have all these groups. Are they doing any good? If not, why do we have them?
Nagle is leaving early. She'll email her thoughts.
Whatever recommendations council wants to take up will be taken up next week for a first reading, and then a second reading on Oct. 29 (public hearing usually on second reading)
The seating of an oversight panel will take 18 mos to 2 yrs to be done correctly, Passalacqua says.
"We implore you to think of the historic voices of the community." Passalacqua
Closing with a great James Baldwin quote: "We can disagree and still love each other unless your disagreement is rooted in my oppression and denial of my humanity and right to exist."
Passalacqua: Racism exists throughout Boulder, not just in the police dept.

Calls on cops to support oversight.
"We are tired and weary of fighting everyday for our lives, to exist. But tonight, we are here to heal." Passalacqua
Council gonna deliberate now.
First we're talking process a bit, since this is coming up quickly for a vote (reminder: Oct. 29 public hearing)
Jones: You guys gave us kinda both but with a recommendation...? I wanna explore that. If you guys have a preference for one, maybe we should go with it, versus you said both were fine.
Yates: Do we want to keep some flexibility bc even the task force had some differences of opinion? What if the public has other ideas, too? I don't wanna get rid of one if the public hasn't weighed in.
Brockett: I felt the preference in the packet was a bit stronger for the first model than you guys presented tonight.
Denae: While there was a majority, there were ppl who felt very strongly the second model had more independence than the auditor/monitor

Jones: So you're passing the choice to us?
That's fine, Jones says, but we don't want to lose sight of your recommendation if you have one.
Passalacqua: I think we wrestled with that same sort of idea. Was it the wishes of city council to only receive one recommendation based on our research? Or did council want to have options?
"We've presented you with two options. I agree that a hybridization even of these two models is perfectly fine. However, we've taken many hours to develop robust options for you."
We'd have to talk as a task force if you want us to pick one, he says. That's a collective decision.
Jones: I just want to make sure if we choose one or both or the other, you feel heard and honored.
Denae: That's why we presented both. If we only went with one, we felt members of the group would be effectively silenced.
Morzel: Can we have the public hearing at the first reading?

Damn, the next meeting is HUGE.
Budget, community benefit, use tables and opportunity zone.
Morzel asks if public went to the meetings.
Turnout for the first few meetings was "very strong," Passalacqua says.
10-15 community members, roughly
Their feedback is reflected in the recommendations.
Jones thinks council should make a recommendation ahead of the public hearing.
Carlisle likes the second model: A contracted independent investigator and police oversight panel, with a community liaison.

"The objective here is to strengthen the police dept in the right way."
Jones: It might be useful to hear from police dept about these two models, since the task force said they wanted to have a cooperative relationship rather than one being resisted.
Brockett: I feel either model will be successful. I don't feel extremely strongly, but he likes the independence of the second model *and* likes having a full-time auditor/monitor bc it will present "more opportunities for systemic change."
"I'm torn," he says.
Yates: I think these are both great models, but has a "slight bias" toward an independent investigator. "I worry about placing all of this with one internal person."
There's more "flexibility" with hiring a contractor to do an independent investigator that you don't have with a full-time employee.
We could go with the independent investigator and "find someone we like a lot" and then hire that person internally. "It could be a free look." That gives us the best of both worlds.
Jones: In both models, the oversight panel is a major player either way. I have faith in a diverse, well-chosen body of folks to vet things and as the holder of the space.
Wants an 11-person panel rather than 9. While smaller is more efficient, Jones says, "I'm not sure efficiency is the goal here." It's about getting more voices.
Suggestion from Jones: If we go with auditor/monitor, what if we have the ability to contract out an independent investigator? So it's like a hybrid.
"We have the benefit of having an auditor/monitor really paying attention to our community but the tool of independence for really big stuff."
Consensus on task force: They like that.
Morzel likes Yates' idea to start with hiring an independent investigator that maybe we then hire later as the auditor/monitor.
Also wants 11 members on that oversight panel
Junie Joseph just walked in, so a good time to say which city council candidates are here tonight: Swetlik (as always), Friend and Duran.

Candidates: If you're here and I don't see you, @ me.
Passalacqua: Both models offer independence. The way you're debating it is different. Having someone completely outside the city is appealing, but with the auditor/monitor, you have someone independent of the police.
"We just want to make that point very clear that one model is not more independent of the others."
"We'd like to have someone in the capacity to build community healing. That element is very, very important that both models can offer."
Jones: That notion of outreach and community building, is that in both models?
Conklin: Yes. The auditor/model and police oversight panel would coordinate that (first model) and community liaison (second)
Jones: We're doing other work on this. It's not just the police dept that has to do this work. We recognize the systemic nature of this issue... nobody is off the hook.
Brockett: Racism built into our society is something we all have to work on.
Four police dept representatives here.
All white guys.
Carey Weinheimer, interim police chief, says the process was quick and "through no fault of their own" task force didn't have adequate time to look into the current model.
Of oversight*
He likes auditor/monitor model bc it's the next step from what Boulder is currently doing.
"I know independent investigation sounds good" ... "we have a long history of doing really good investigations in the department."
Hillard Heinze report lauded the police dept. internal investigations, he says. "There are many barriers to overcome with independence."
In-house sergeant deals with investigations now, full-time. He can order ppl to cooperate with investigations; contractor might not be able to, Weinheimer is suggesting.
"What authority do they have? Whose authority do they work under?"
"There's a relationship that develops" between police chief and internal investigator. Notes how many former police chiefs were investigators first.
Auditor/monitor system "offers a very good compromise," he says.
California cities often use contracted auditor/monitors "hundreds of miles away."
"Those are the concerns I have about an independent investigator."

Auditor/monitor "offers a lot of promise, next level of transparency."
We are concerned about bias, he says. Unbiased policing is the theme of our 2020 training.
Carlisle: You feel that a contractural auditor/monitor would be someone you could build a relationship with, as you referenced? What you don't want is a Dif person coming in each time?
Weinheimer: Yes. I'm throwing out options other than full-time staffed auditor/monitor.
Apparently Palo Alto has a model he likes.
Jones: Are you recommending a contracted auditor/monitor INSTEAD of an independent investigator or instead of either option?
Weinheimer: Go with auditor/monitor, and one of the options is to contact.

Morzel: Do you have a preference for in-house or contracted?
Weinheimer: We could start with a contractual obligation and see what the workload is. If there is a need for full-time, we could move to that.
The police union president, Mark something(?): "We always get rave reviews" of how we handle ourselves. I "take pause" at some of the changes being suggested here.
Auditor/monitor model: Union feels it lends greater transparency for recommending the body at all levels. There's a greater flow of information. "It's someone both the community and the police dept can trust."
Investigative model "gives us pause," bc it conflicts with the union contract for investigative process.

Investigative steps, due process, etc... "if we have an outside source coming to that" ... timeliness might be a concern.
Union doesn't support that model.
Weinheimer: Our internal investigating sergeant does NOT make recommendations to discipline or findings. "They are a fact finder."
"In my opinion, an investigator should not be making recommendations. They only should gather facts."
Denae: In the independent model, investigation would NOT include recommendations. It would just be fact finding.
Curt Johnson, a police officer who attended the task force meetings, saying he understands the need for community members to be able to make complaints to somewhere other than the police dept. Auditor/monitor model has that. (The other does, too, though.)
I think this is him. It might be Ron Gosage.
Either way, he is touting the internal affairs investigations and how thorough they are.
Weinheimer: We did this in 1993 to establish the current oversight panel. It's lasted this long and it was successful bc the police were involved.

Two officers should be on the selection panel bc it will "lend credibility"
Audience hissing.
Conklin: Both models have a non-voting police liaison member on the panels themselves.
Brockett: We're not dealing with the selection process tonight, right?

Johnson: There are a lot of details to be worked out. We're willing to work with the task force. If there are a lot of those little process details we need to sit down and work together.
Brockett asks the q again to task force.
Passalacqua: I think we were very clear in how wed' want the selection process to proceed in both models.
"We have to have the support of the police dept or this isn't going to work." Passalacqua
Yates: So you would stay together as a task force and help us iron these details out?
Passalacqua: A subset of the group, probably. We're doing this voluntarily.
Passalacqua: Some subset of us would choose to stay. In order for this to work in terms of implementation, it's important that some of us will remain.
Weaver and Young aren't here, but they both want Boulder's Human Relations Commission to be involved in the selection process for the oversight panel members.

Task force OK with that.
That was via email, which Morzel is sharing.
There was concern about the auditor/monitor reporting to city council, that it would politicize police policies.

Task force responded that police chief keeps authority for discipline and that community concern outweighs possibility of politicizing.
Right now, the auditor/monitor would be beholden to the city manager, bc they would be a paid staff member. A charter change would be needed to make that person beholden to council.
Beholden is probably a soft word. I mean that they would report directly to city manager, who has authority over them.
Jones wrapping up her thoughts: Auditor/monitor model, with civilian oversight panel and the option to contract out an independent investigator.

Council agrees.
Carlisle: The police chief made a "compelling argument" and it's the first recommendation of the task force.
Ok, that's the model that will move forward for a vote Oct. 15 (first) and Oct. 26 (final)
Council is now talking about the process for selecting members of the oversight panel. Yates wants the HRC involved; task force can work out the details.

Task force already said they are OK with that.
I'm a bit fuzzy on this, but I *think* council will recommend nonprofit groups with a history of serving under-represented groups who will then be part of the selection process.
"We hope that council would have sufficient knowledge to recommend nonprofits each go round." Passalacqua says.

Jones: So we'd recommend different ones each time?
Yes; "the rotation is important," Passalacqua says.
Those would be two- and four- year positions on the oversight panel, task force recommends.

Yates pushing *maybe* for longer. "Would you be opposed to five years?"
Denae: Nationally it ranged from 6 months to 10 years, so it's flexible.
OK I know this is *super* late but I found a definition of Class 1 misconduct: allegations of serious misconduct including: acceptance of bribe or gratuity, commission of a crime, controlled substance violations, intoxicated on duty, excessive force, and misuse of police powers.
Denae responding to the police officer's request to be part of the selection process: Having specific officers picking members of the board that might be looking into their misconduct is not something we'd want. Very strong feelings on this.
We want them involved, Denae says, but not picking members.

Morzel/Jones: Even non-voting?
Passalacqua: Having police picking ppl that are overseeing police, is problematic.
The presence and influence is problematic. "It's another thing we're trying to dismantle."
(That was Passalacqua)
Jones wants to figure out a way for council to be ultimately responsible for what the police oversight panel does. "We're elected," the people pick us and the buck stops with us.
Brockett: You don't want there to be pressure from council, but if community members felt there was issues with the panel, what do we do?
Denae: We've wrestled with that problem at length. It's tricky. It's something we'd have to iron out.
Yates: "I get the risk of politicalization. I don't take that point lightly. But really seriously think about how you want us to be accountable and be involved somehow. Something so we have ownership of it so that when we're held accountable we can say, 'Yeah, it was my choice.'"
Passalacqua: We want city council to be accountable in this entire process. In the auditor/monitor model, they oversee the oversight panel.
Yates: So that further argues for auditor/monitor to report to council. We won't be able to do that right away (charter changes have to go to the voters, which can't happen until *next* election)
Jones: Think about checks and balances if it starts to go off the rails.
Carlisle wants a non-voting member of the police dept on the selection group. "There's been a police officer on your task force this whole time and there's trust there."
Brockett: I understand the concerns. Is there room for police input that's *not* sitting on the selection committee? Like a letter of recommendations or a check-in? An opportunity for feedback but not selecting ppl overseeing them.
Passalacqua: We've had one or two voting members on the task force that were cops, and others sitting in. We are "completely open to the collaboration and collective knowledge we've received from them."
Oh man, Jones is going to miss the next meeting with the budget, community benefit and use tables. She's often (but not always) a voice of reason on these things. I'm looking forward to this meeting even less now.
I think we're done with this issue for tonight. Reminder: Public hearing Oct. 29.
First some gratitude from council for the task force.
Jones: This is one of the more functional bodies I think I've witnessed in many years.

Applause from the audience.
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