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City of Cedar Rapids Completes Citizen Review Board Ordinance

City of Cedar Rapids Completes Citizen Review Board Ordinance

January 21, 2021

The City of Cedar Rapids is working to establish an independent Citizen Review Board (CRB) to further community relations and police accountability. An ordinance outlining the formation and duties of the CRB has been completed and will be presented to Cedar Rapids City Council for consideration on January 26, 2021.

The ordinance is the culmination of months of work and collaboration, including resident focus groups, community surveys and feedback opportunities, and direct work with the local Advocates for Social Justice (ASJ) group.

“I am extremely pleased with the cooperation and open discussion that occurred as we all worked towards our shared goal of creating a strong and effective CRB that fits our community’s specific needs,” said Jennifer Pratt, Cedar Rapids Community Development Director. “This is a better ordinance because of the participation of members of Advocates for Social Justice.”

The City and ASJ also worked with the National Association for Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement (NACOLE) to develop the final Cedar Rapids ordinance draft.

“The work of developing civilian oversight of law enforcement is difficult but essential when establishing mechanisms that seek to make their local law enforcement agencies more transparent, accountable, and responsive to the communities they serve,” said Cameron McEllhiney, NACOLE Director of Training & Education. “NACOLE has had the pleasure of working with the City and Advocates for Social Justice as they developed the ordinance to establish civilian oversight in the City of Cedar Rapids. The discourse, commitment, and collaboration that we have seen between these two entities throughout the process is an example for other cities to follow.”

“Advocates for Social Justice (ASJ) applauds the months-long collaboration with Jennifer Pratt and Bill Micheel, from the City of Cedar Rapids, and representatives of NACOLE,” said ASJ Board Member Anne Harris Carter. “While we feel we have developed the strongest CRB in the state, we know much work remains. Hopefully this process will serve as a roadmap for future negotiations.”

The Cedar Rapids Police Department has expressed support and appreciation throughout the process to develop a CRB for Cedar Rapids.

“The Citizen Review Board will promote transparency and increase the level of trust between the police department and our community,” Cedar Rapids Police Chief Wayne Jerman. “The CRPD is committed to providing outstanding service and this process will illuminate the outstanding work the men and women do.”

Cedar Rapids City Council passed a resolution on June 19, 2020 officially declaring their support and commitment to addressing priorities brought to the City through the local Black Lives Matter Movement and Advocates for Social Justice. At the meeting, City Council approved and agreed to move forward on all seven priorities, with establishment of a Citizen Review Board being agreed upon by both groups as the highest priority to implement quickly.

“On behalf of the entire Cedar Rapids City Council, I want to thank the community, members of ASJ, our Police Department and City Staff for their tireless efforts to develop a Citizen Review Board structure that will meet the needs of Cedar Rapids residents –and specifically those typically underrepresented,” said Cedar Rapids Mayor Brad Hart. “City Council is committed to addressing social justice issues within our community. We will continue to listen, work together, and develop solutions to ensure equity for everyone.”

“I want to express my appreciation to our City Council for their leadership moving this forward,” said City Manager Jeff Pomeranz. “By providing clear vision and policy direction, City staff was able to confidently facilitate the drafting of this ordinance, which is a great collaboration and positive step for our community.”

Residents are invited to view the proposed ordinance at cedar-rapids.org/CRB.

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