Shay Castle Profile picture
Sep 22, 2020 137 tweets 17 min read Twitter logo Read on Twitter
It's Tuesday, you know what that means: Another exciting edition of #Boulder city council.

Tonight's a study session, and there are two topics: Police oversight and winter sheltering.
You can read about the latter here. Council will give feedback on this staff-proposed plan.…
Tonight's study session will be led by Junie Joseph (council members are taking turns).

And it will start with a reading for RBG. Mark Wallach reminds me (and everyone else in Zoom) that she was one of his professors in university.
He mentioned that when he interviewed during the campaign and said he was totally intimidated by her. I forget what else, but I think it was that there was another Mark in class and he would tense up every time she called on Mark... but it was usually the other kid.
Actually, JK, that's not going to happen bc Friend didn't prepare anything; she thought staff was, they thought she was. We'll come back to it.
Weaver: "We all recognize that she was a great woman and she gave her life to public service. ... She was a champion for the voter access laws as well as women's right to choose ... and putting women on equal footing with men. It is a great loss to all of us."
Wallach talking about her as his professor: "She was as intimidating a professor as I ever had. ... It was an honor to be in her class. She was a great woman and a great Supreme Court Justice ... I greatly mourn her passing."
Next topic: Police oversight. Presentation:…
Since council last visited this topic, Boulder hired Joey Lipari as the Independent Police Monitor. He will be the go-between for the civilian oversight panel and the police dept. We'll get into some of his duties tonight during the discussion.
Or I can just share this from the packet: "The monitor will receive (or be forwarded) all complaints, will gather preliminary information on the complaint, classify the complaint, and route it to BPD’s Professional Standards Unit for investigation. ...
... The monitor will inform the Police Oversight Panel of all new complaints received and provide regular status updates in closed meetings. The monitor will be present for and observe PSU interviews and have access to all relevant case files.....
....The monitor may make recommendations for additional investigation as well as disposition, disciplinary and training recommendations to the chief of police. The monitor will report to the Police Oversight Panel any recommendations made to BPD and the response from BPD. ...
... The monitor will notify the Police Oversight Panel when an investigation is complete and a determination has been made. The monitor will review the closed investigation with the Police Oversight Panel and facilitate their access to any relevant case files. ...
... The monitor will contact the complainant to share the monitor’s assessment of the investigation and answer any questions. The monitor will provide anonymized summaries of closed cases in publicly available quarterly reports w/ the monitor’s assessment of the investigation."
Got all that?
Reminder: This all started bc of the confrontation of Zayd Atkinson, a black Naropa student, by armed officers.…
Boulder put together a task force to research oversight models.…
The last council OK'd the monitor model in October:…
That will include an 11-member civilian oversight panel.

"Instead of ppl sitting around feeling voiceless," says Michelle Denae, who served on the task force, "they feel heard and engaged."
Denae: "In order to build equity, you have to start with trust. Through equity, you can build transparency."
Let's go over some of the changes since the last time council visited this nearly a year ago (and how the implementation team feels about some of them).

Some members of the task force stayed on to serve on the implementation team.
Monitor will see all civilian complaints
Monitor will not participate in investigations (he has to remain independent) They will make recommendation to the Internal Affairs Sergeant. If that’s rejected, appeal to the chief, then city manager. City manager’s response will be public.
The implementation team is “amenable" to this; they wanted the auditor to order additional investigation.
Physical and email addresses of Oversight Panel applicants will be public (Implementation team wants to “remove barriers” that would discourage people from participating — this might mean they're not comfortable with this, but I'm not sure. I'll let you know)
Three alternates will be added to panel, in addition to 11 members

2 spots reserved for college students will be 1-year; initial terms 2 or 3, then 3 years thereafter. Two-term max for all panelists.
Implementation team + 2 nonprofits picked by them will pick initial members. Afterward, two members of Oversight + 2 nonprofits picked by them will make selection. Council will OK with a majority vote.
Members can be removed by a majority vote of the Oversight Panel and majority of council.
Ongoing investigations and other confidential data will be shared by monitor to Oversight Panel in closed session; publicly available data must be in aggregate or summary.
Members will sign a confidentiality agreement and agree not to disclose anything that happens in closed session
Lastly, the oversight panel will explore mediation and restorative justice when applicable. It may not be appropriate in all cases (like when a cop commits a crime).
Let's go over the role of the oversight panel, shall we?

From the packet: "The Police Oversight Panel will receive updates on all ongoing investigations and may choose to review any closed cases. The Police Oversight Panel will have access to any relevant case files or records
... to conduct their review. The Police Oversight Panel will publicly report on cases it reviews, which may include comments on the handling of the complaint, the fairness and thoroughness of the investigation and the reasonableness of the adjudication. ...
... The comments and any related policy or procedural issues identified by the Police Oversight Panel in the course of its case review shall be provided to the monitor for further consideration. The Police Oversight Panel will notify the complainant and involved employee(s) ...
... of its decisions on whether to accept a case for review and will inform the complainant of its conclusions on the case. The Police Oversight Panel will review trends and statistics of complaints against sworn police officers and civilian police employees ...
... and may develop recommendations to improve the complaint intake and handling process."
Lipari: Oversight is unique to each city. "You can't just copy and paste" a model from one city and use it in another.
Here's a fun flow chart of how complaints get handled:
Todd Conklin, member of the task force/implementation team: The complaint goes through the chain of command because that creates an accountability culture within the dept, which we think is a good thing.
Going over the changes I threaded earlier. Apologies if my tweeting isn't up to snuff tonight; I'm on the road and having difficulty focusing.
I mean, I'm not on the road at the current moment. No driving and tweeting.
Lipari: "I don't expect (that) to be a common issue," referring to what happens if the chief rejects the recommendations of the panel/monitor
Lipari on applying for the oversight panel: You just send an email, notifying the city of your interest.

Reminder: The panel members will be picked by members of the implementation team and two nonprofit they pick. Council will vote on those appointments.
Members of the implementation team can serve on the oversight panel if they choose.
I should do a flow chart of all the various resident groups it took to get here.

Task force -> Implementation team -> Oversight panel
Guess it wan't much of a chart. More of a line.
Lipari talking about why 2 college students will be included on the oversight panel, in 1-yr terms: This started with the confrontation of a college student. (Atkinson)
On the non-disclosure agreements and closed sessions: You may have minors, you have sensitive details that can't be made public.
"We'll have public meetings where we report out on summary" details: how long someone has been under investigation, what type of allegations, etc. "to give the public some sense of what's happening in the process."
The case itself will be discussed in closed session, Lipari says, until it's closed. Then it will be made (mostly) public.
OK, council qs now.

Weaver: "This is a remarkable piece of work."
His q: What's the process after applicants indicate their interest? Will the interview qs be standardized?
Lipari: There wouldn't be any written application process, really. It would be mostly interview based.

Denae: It's similar to how this task force was created. There was no formal application. We wanted to remove barriers for differently abled people.
Conklin: We intend for that oral interview section to be a "very rigorous" section, "very thorough."
Weaver: Will the interview qs be standardized? What's the thinking on how to be fair and equitable? You might have an applicant very good on their feet but with less lived experience, and someone with helpful experience who's not great at interviews.
Lipari: It's fair to assume there will be standard questions. There will have to be a little room for give and take.
Weaver: Have the nonprofits been selected? What's the process for that?
Lipari: They have not been. That will be a discussion once the ordinance is actually passed (in October, I think)
Weaver: What are we thinking in terms of nonprofits?
Lipari: That's an implementation team thing, not the purview of the monitor.
Denae: We are looking for groups with a history of serving the community and under-represented groups.
Wallach: Why 11 members of the panel?
Lipari: It's prob best to try and aim for an odd number, to avoid split votes. We talked about 9, but if 1-2 ppl can't make it, you're down to 6-7. Just seemed like 11 was the right balance.
Wallach: Obviously I'm going to defer to you on that, but it seems like a large group. Perhaps unwieldy.
Wallach: Will council simply be ratifying, as in you send us 11 members and we vote? Or will we have more choices? What happens in the "unlikely event" we reject a candidate?
Lipari: We'd send you another candidate.
Wallach: What's the process for resolution if the monitor and panel disagree?
Lipari: They can disagree. What is going to bring all these Dif entities making recommendations to the chief is the department's adoption of a disciplinary matrix, which lays out options for discipline.
The monitor will bring his recommendation AND the panel's to the chief. They don't have to be the same.
Brockett: What's the authority for allowing the panel to meet in closed session? I thought all meetings of public bodies have to be public?
Carr: Under the law, the only body that has to meet publicly is the council. As a policy matter, we extend that to all boards and commission
This is not a board and commission, Carr says, under the charter. So it doesn't apply.
Luis Toro, another city attorney: We're going to be discussing confidential personnel matters. That's something we strongly believe is not appropriate for the public. There's a balance with transparency and the need for confidentiality for city employees.
Toro: Most of the proceedings will be public but when they're discussing specific cases and naming names, those won't be public.
Brockett: I totally understand why you'd want it to be closed, but is it fully a choice that our boards and commission meetings are open?
Carr: Yes. Open meetings laws only apply to governing bodies. There's strong language in the charter that says all meetings should be open.
Doesn't apply to boards and commissions, Carr repeats, but we apply it to them.
Friend: "Why would council select and approve the panel? It feels like we're getting into more hiring and firing than the charter authorizes us to do. ... It feels a bit like we would possibly be micro-managing and I have concerns about politicization."
Carr: Council is approving, not necessarily appointing. The thought was council should have some say bc you're the representatives of the people.
Carr: This was a compromise, taking it out of the city manager's hands and giving it to council to ratify.
Friend: It just seems like something we don't do day-to-day, doesn't sound like we'd be doing the interviews... it just seems like something that's not in our usual purview
Carr: In many ways, this is a hybrid. It's not a board/commission, it's not a purely resident working group.
Brockett: I think you raise a question for me, which is, council has this final approval role, and I understand the compromise that gets you there. On what basis do we make that decision given the primary evaluation of these candidates is through interviews?
"It seems like an unreasonable expectation that council will listen to many, many hours of interviews. What would be the basis that council would evaluate those appointees?"
Denae: "That's something we went back and forth on at length."
Lipari: If council wanted to question the person, you could. And you would receive a written document explaining the appointment, describing the individual's background, etc.
Lipari: This isn't necessarily articulated, but "whatever the council feels they need to make tat decision, let us know and we'll try to figure something out."
Brockett: "We might want to pin this down a little bit more."
Friend: In Denae's response, I think I heard that the implementation team knew council would want to do the final decision. If we didn't, what would you want?
Denae: It would just be without the council. The implementation team and nonprofits pick the initial panel, then the panel and nonprofits pick members after that.
Conklin: That's what we assumed in our initial discussions.
Young asked something that I missed, but the answer involves the oversight panel forming a subcommittee to determine a process.
Young: How often will the panel meet?
Once a month, more if needed.
Young asks about complaints
Denae: We're thinking about a number of ways in addition to contacting the monitor or police dept. Maybe a text line.. various methods we're working on.
Young: What about going to a member of the panel?
Conklin: I don't think we brought that up, bc they would route it to the monitor or police dept anyway. I don't think we intended for the panel to be points of contact for complaints.
Lipari: The panel will be assisting with community outreach. Members of the panel will be in touch with members of the public, so you probably will have community members talking to panel members, who can direct them to the process.
"I would encourage panel members not to discuss the case too much," because they will have to review the case later and maybe need to recuse themselves, Lipari says (which Conklin mentioned)
Young: What's the role for independent investigations? How do those integrate?
Lipari: The ordinance does not have an investigator role for the monitor.
Denae: We did include a clause for an option to independent investigation.
Denae: If for whatever reason members of the community don't feel the monitor and/or chief came to a just conclusion, they can ask for an independent investigation via the panel / council. We have ID'd some of the most qualified bodies to do so.
Young asked a q but it's hard to capture. The answer, however, is informative.
Lipari: The panel will start overseeing cases and may start noticing patterns. They can look into those things further and recommend them for review.
Conklin: The panel can ID an area within the dept they'd like to push reform, and then work with the monitor and police chief on that.
Weaver: Can the public watch the interviews for panel applicants?
Conklin: We'll be happy to consider it.
Weaver: I bring it up bc what if an applicant is controversial. Where would the public be able to ID that?
Weaver: We would maybe make the ratification a public hearing, but if council doesn't have the final say — and we might not want to — where does the public participation come in?
"Where is the public going to get a say, at least at the level of the (applicants) being recommended for approval?"

Denae: That's an excellent q. We'd heard council would want a say, so we didn't flesh out an alternative. But we can.
Conklin: Is council still interested in restorative justice?
Friend: Did the task force not want restorative justice?
Denae: We didn't really say one way or another. We are waiting for council to speak on. "I think the rest of it, we were pretty firm and pointed on what we wanted."
Young: Did you discuss any name other than Police Oversight Panel?
Conklin: I think it's Community Oversight Panel.

So... COP. I appreciate the irony and appropriateness. Policing the police, as it were.
Joseph: Should the monitor have a role in selecting members of the panel?
Weaver: I think you made a great suggestion to not have him be part of that, since the panel is reviewing the monitor's performance.
I think that wasn't necessarily a Joseph q, maybe just part of her leading the meeting.
Joseph: That concern was brought forward by the NAACP that there might be a conflict of interest. "I don't believe that's there" but it's good to keep the community happy and address their concerns.
Lipari: I said I shouldn't be on the selection panel bc those folks are going to be evaluating me. I think it's a good thing.
Onto council discussion/comments.

Brockett: I think this is heading in the right direction. It's OK to have more rules/procedures that need to be hammered out, but some things I think we need to dial in on before we pass an ordinance:
-How the nonprofits on the selection committee get chosen
-Making it explicit that the monitor won't select the panelists
-More details on what panel review of the monitor will look like
-Defining what public participation looks like in the appointment of panel members. "The public needs to have a role, basically," Brockett says. That could be via council, but it's OK if we don't.
Brockett suggests a "call-up option" for the panelists, rather than "a line-item approval"

If council does get a say on panelists, he wants more details on what info council will get to make that decision, and what happens if they reject a suggested member.
Lastly, what will the panel's rules and procedures be? Who will write those? Who will approve those?

We need some details on that, Brockett says.
That apparently qualified as talking "for a long time," as Brockett said.

He is a quiet man.
Young suggests ways that panel members can accept complaints about the cops from the public but maintain their integrity.

Suggests a sealed envelope or an audio recording. Very Watergate.
Whoa, I took a pee break but I came back and heard the words "lording over" and "slaves."

I'm assuming this has to do with the origins of policing in the south....
Young: "The role of this panel is more than just oversight. It's a role that will bring about continuous improvement" to the police and criminal justice system.
She has a name idea for the Community Oversight Panel.... Community Panel for Justice in Policing, "eliminating the term oversight" since "it's about collaboration."
A task force member is asking the silent members of council to speak up. Good for you, girl!
Wallach: We're going in the right direction. I agree with Brockett's points. And wants the panel to "formulate some conflicts standards" about panel members recusing themselves. Also wants them to look at restorative justice and supports final council OK on the panel members.
"We are the representatives of the people," Wallach says.
Friend: There are so many important positions we don't exercise oversight, so I don't understand why we'd do it here. Applicants are going to be pre-screened by the selection committee; we'd only be leaving it open for politicization.
"I don't see for that reason why we'd want to get in the weeds on this particular hiring" for the panel. "I don't think we need the extra work."

"If we really think we're the best ppl to make this decision," then we should do the interviews ourselves and not do a rubber stamp.
Weaver picking up that thread: "Politicization is one thing, but public input is another thing."
The public needs to weigh in on panel members, Weaver says. He likes Young's idea (which I missed) of having council members on the selection committee.
I really, really think we need council to have final approval and include a public hearing, Weaver says.
Weaver: "Sometimes council members can see something coming just because of what they've heard in the community."
Also echoes Wallach's concerns that 11 members may be too unwieldy. "In practice, 11 can be difficult to manage and difficult to give everyone time to express their opinion."

Also supports restorative justice component.
And likes Young's name, or maybe a shorter version. Community Panel for Just Policing
Yates finally speaks: "You guys are making us look good" and "making our lives easy" with these recommendations.
Wants council to have final say on panel members. "Virtually every resident committee or panel is appointed by council or by the city manager at council's direction," he says.
It would be helpful to include alternates to council for approval, bc it "would be awkward" if council rejects some panelists and then it has to come back to us.

Also thinks 11 members is too many, but "I don't feel strongly about that."
"Oversight is not a great word to use," for the panel, he says. But likes something with justice and policing in it.
Boulder: Taking the oversight out of police oversight.
Swetlik speaks! From his backlit couch, per usual.
Wants council to have final say on panelists, but likes Brockett's idea to have it be a call-up thing, which only happens when there are really strong feelings ahead of time.
Basically, call-up is when council votes to review a decision. So if they're cool with the recommended panelists, they would just decide to not call it up. But if they have issues, they'll "call it up" for a discussion.
Swetlik also not a fan of 11 members. Think about what you can get from an additional 2 members that you can't get from 9 people, he says.
Swetlik: It's great to have this happening in our city. "It was more than a long time coming."
Joseph agrees with everything.
Sounds like council will put two members on the panel selection committee... which sounds like it kinda defeats the point of having the implementation team / nonprofits do it... ? I feel like we already had this discussion last year.
Brockett: I wouldn't support having council members on the selection committee. ... It's often the case that committee members tend to be deferential to city council members, so I feel they might have a little more influence. It might be good to leave it in others' hands.
Weaver: I kind of agree with that. There's pros and cons on having council members on these kinds of committees. In this case, I'm leaning toward not. But I'm still focused on public input for this process.
"We need to hear the feedback" in a public hearing, he says. "Regardless of what your final recommendation is, my suggestion is you think deeply about how we would take public input and how council is involved with that."
Denae on renaming the panel to remove the word oversight: That's part of the activation we're talking about. It's the same for the word "officer" and "overseer." I'm not sure you're aware of it; it might be worth a read.
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