Members of West Point City Council said Tuesday the challenge of creating a citizen’s police review board will be deciding who will serve on it and how they are appointed.
“We want to make sure we do this right,” said Mayor Drew Ferguson IV.
A review board could be appointed as soon as council’s regular June meeting, but Ferguson said if council can’t agree on the format, it could take longer.
Council chose to create the review board after agreeing earlier this month to allow its police officers to carry Tasers. The review board will have the authority to review police investigations – once they are completed – and look at residents’ questions about police policies.
Councilman Ben Wilcox, who is a defense attorney, said he was worried having such a board would “open the floodgates” for anyone with any problem with the police department to complain to the review board. But police Chief Jeffrey Cato said the department already has a policy in place to investigate incidents, particularly those involving a use of force.
“You can’t stop people from complaining,” Cato said.
The chief also said anyone who files a complaint with police has to sign an agreement that they won’t make false statements to police.
“That will stop a lot of (frivolous) complaints,” said Councilwoman Sandra Thornton, who had voted against the Tasers.
Council also heard Tuesday night from representatives who want to create a mental health court in the Troup County judicial system. Law enforcement, judicial representatives, mental health workers and the faith community all have partnered to create the court, but need about $60,000 to hire a coordinator for the program.
LaGrange City Council already has pledged to help fund the effort, which would be similar to the drug and DUI courts that are operating now.
Representatives of the proposed program asked West Point to contribute $5,000. Ferguson said the group would continue to discuss the initiative at its next regular work session in June.