BENNINGTON — A draft proposal for the creation of a civilian police review board will be considered by the select committee on Monday.
The draft, which is displayed in the Select Board meeting package on the city websitewas prepared by the council’s community policing task force and is based on recommendations from a report by a citizens’ task force and feedback received subsequently.
“This is a project developed by the Community Policing Task Force following our March 14 select council meeting,” council chair Jeannie Jenkins said. “It reflects the consensus of the select committee, using recommendations from the task force, public comments and feedback from City Council, BPD [Bennington Police Department], and other City staff. This is a draft and not a final version.
The board is close to a final vote on adopting a format for the proposed police department review board, with the goal of having the first members seated by late spring.
The proposal the select committee will consider Monday at its 6 p.m. meeting is presented in the form of a resolution establishing a police review board.
It begins with the statement:
“The Bennington Select Board, through its authority, hereby establishes a City Council to be known as the Community Policing Advisory Review Board (CPARB), to provide meaningful community involvement in decision-making in matters safety, fairness and law enforcement.”
The resolution continues: “Through the establishment of CPARB, the City of Bennington, its police department and select committee are committed to working with the entire community to ensure safety, accountability, transparency and confidence and to move Bennington forward towards achieving his vision. to become “a welcoming, engaged, inclusive and resilient community where everyone, whatever their identity, shares our vitality and enjoys an exceptional quality of life”.
Among the main provisions of the draft resolution are:
— “The CPARB will be composed of seven members from the community. Community is defined as a resident of the town of Bennington, Old Bennington or North Bennington or someone who works or has demonstrated a significant commitment (8 hours per week or more) to volunteering in Bennington.
— “During the first year, three members of the CPARB will be appointed for terms of (3) years and four members for terms of (2) years. In the second year, two members will be appointed for terms of (3) years and two members will be appointed for terms of (2) years. Starting in the third year, all terms will be three years. No member may serve more than seven consecutive years on the board. Former members can apply after ceasing to serve for one year.
According to the draft resolution, the review panel:
— To provide an alternative and confidential entry portal where members of the public can enter complaints and/or compliments directed to the Bennington Police Department.
— Review training required for BPD and outcomes and make recommendations on additional areas of training such as de-escalation, fair and impartial policing, verbal and non-verbal communication skills; inherent bias; and discretion of officers.
— Review existing collaborations with local organizations and agencies and make recommendations on ways to strengthen and develop additional working relationships between BPD and the community.
— Develop a database for the analysis of anonymized compliments and complaints.
— Provide an annual summary of data and trends relating to police policy and training; complaints and compliments; police/community collaborations and CPARB educational activities.
According to the draft resolution, “CPARB will be governed by the same general requirements as other municipal boards and commissions with respect to appointments, conduct, terms of office, the law of public meetings and the law of records. open”.
Additionally, “CPARB does not have the power or authority to investigate, review, or otherwise participate in matters involving specific police personnel or specific police-related incidents. CPARB will not receive or review complaints against police personnel, or play any role in civil or criminal litigation. The Bennington Select Board will retain the function of the city’s board of review, as required by Bennington’s city charter and Vermont statutes.
The select committee “has the power to appoint and remove members of the CPARB,” according to the resolution. “Members who are absent and inactive for three consecutive months or who demonstrate a pattern of inactivity over a period of six months, or who fail to meet the expectations of this resolution will be asked to reconsider their membership in CPARB. At the discretion of the select committee, any member may be removed from the CPARB. »
As for the training of council members, they “must complete training authorized by the Chief of the Bennington Police Department before actively participating in CPARB. CPARB members must undergo additional training during their tenure; no less than one additional training per year. Training costs will be covered by the Town of Bennington.
The establishment of a standing police review committee is one of the key recommendations of an ongoing community policing initiative, which has also included the review of Bennington Police Department policies and procedures.
Information about the process can be found on a community police page on the city website.