CORALVILLE, Iowa (KWWL) - Since the summer of 2020, Coralville city leaders and members of the public have been trying to bring their police department closer to the community.
The city passed an unbiased policing ordinance in December and along with it, agreed to form a Citizen's Community Policing Advisory Board.
"I feel like our city council, and mayor, and chief of police are really on-board," Kathy Hotsenpiller said, one of the seven members on the board.
Hotsenpiller is a Coralville mom who got more interested in social justice this past summer. While spots were reserved for everyday people like herself, they were also reserved for members of local social justice groups. There's one member from the NAACP and another from the League of United Latin American Citizens.
"I love the fact that we're gonna have somebody representing them because they do a lot of stuff for the community," Diego Rivera said, speaking about the LULAC representative. Rivera is a Coralville dad on the board who also works at Hope House, a halfway house for people reentering society from incarceration.
The board was formed in-part because of recent traffic stop data. In 2019, Black drivers were more likely to be cited than White drivers in Coralville. 20.4% of tickets issued by CPD went to Black drivers of different cities, while Black people make up 7.5% of Johnson County and 13.4% of Coralville.
"If the community members have an opportunity to speak to the police about their experiences being pulled over or being arrested, I feel like that gives a whole different perspective," Hotsenpiller said.
The board's responsibilities are to review policing data and look for trends, recommend new trainings to CPD, and help people file police complaints.
The board members hope by bringing more voices to the table, they will be able to break down the wall between the public and the police.
"There's always going to be an issue of one side or the other. But that's gonna be our goal, to see how we can narrow that gap," Rivera said.
Iowa City has the oldest Community Police Review Board in the state, founded in 1997. The city is currently in the process of giving that board more power --like extending the statute of limitations for complaints to be filed and giving the board access to more data.