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Iowa City police review board gets final input before submitting changes to council

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An ICPD patrol car responding to a call on North Dubuque Street Monday.
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Dustin Larson of the El Paso Police Department, speaking at an event in August.

IOWA CITY, Iowa (KWWL) - City leaders and members of the public feel Iowa City's unique Community Police Review Board is not being utilized to its fullest potential.

When the board was founded in 1997, it was the only one in the state. The board reviews complaints people make against officers for alleged misconduct but right now it can only make suggestions for the police chief to consider.

Many people hope that will change soon.

"This new wave of 'what else can we be doing as a community'...is fantastic," David Selmer said, one of the five CPRB members.

When passing its initial commitments in support of Black Lives Matter in June, the City Council pledged to come up with a plan to give the CPRB more power by January 1.

Current members say they're redrafting the ordinance that governs the board right now. They've been brainstorming about what changes to include.

A few of their ideas are getting quarterly reports about officer interactions from the department instead of getting just one yearly report. Also, getting more firsthand accounts from complainants, instead of something trimmed down by police officials.

The board hosted its yearly public forum to hear some more proposed changes on Monday night.

"The board is metamorphizing right now," Selmer said.

Iowa City will also be getting a fulltime police chief for the first time since February very soon. City Manager Geoff Fruin recommended Dustin Liston, a lieutenant with the El Paso Police Department, for the job last week.

Dustin Liston speaking at a city event in August.

"I really think he's going to get the ball rolling on stuff like this," Amel Ali said, a community member who interviewed Liston for the city as part of its hiring process.

Ali called in to the yearly forum Monday to say the review board needs to be more visible in the community.

"Since it's a community review board, I think their names --or their information-- should be on the back of every single police card that's handed out," Ali said.

Travis Breese

Reporter, Iowa City

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