116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — The nine members appointed to the city’s newly created citizens’ police review board said at their first meeting Thursday they envision their work building stronger bridges between law enforcement officials and the community they serve for generations to come.
The panel — born of the Advocates for Social Justice’s seven demands for local police reform after the murder last year of George Floyd by Minneapolis police — convened for the first time to discuss the legacy members hope the board will leave, review bylaws and training requirements and settle other logistics like scheduling.
Members selected Star Smith and India Snow-Watt as chair and vice chair, respectively. As a Black woman with friends who are officers, Smith said she is excited about being a bridge-builder involved in connecting police and the community.
"What I hope and what I envision is this will become a rock, a foundation of just that bridge to make sure that there is a really good relationship built between the community and our law enforcement,“ Smith told The Gazette.
Cedar Rapids police Sgt. Laura Faircloth shared with members more details about training they would undergo in their first year on the panel, as set by the police department. It will include:
- Structure of the police department
- Constitutional law, Bill of Rights, state and local law
- Use of force evolution and policies
- De-escalation training
- Mental health team
- Force options, firearms and weapons systems
- Hands-on defense tactics
- Professional standards
Members also will develop a process for overseeing complaints against officers and will develop a public outreach program, which must include holding one forum.
Toward the end of the board’s first operational year, city Program Manager April Wing, the staff liaison to the board, reminded members they will do some long-term planning: “What is it that you guys hope to accomplish or hope for the CRB to accomplish within the next five years or so?”
While Smith said there is no way to know where the community will be in 10 years, she hopes this board — once members are trained and understand more what it means to be a police officer — will provide accountability, strengthen community relationships and ensure residents feel their voices are heard.
Several board members emphasized hoping this panel’s work would make the community better for today’s children and to create a sense of belonging and inclusion for all.
That this board grew out of the protests against racial injustice and police brutality is a good thing, Smith said.
“Everything that happened, there's a lot of people who feel like their voices are not heard,” Smith said. “I think this will give them that opportunity to be able to share their voice and to actually have those that are in charge of our city listen — and they're listening. Their ears are open wide.”
Mayor Brad Hart thanked the members for their service. He said the training will be critical to members’ work.
“Our police department will be more effective, solve more crimes, and that benefits every one of us,” Hart said.
The board’s next meeting is slated for Aug. 19. Meetings will be held in-person with a virtual option.
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