Albany-- City leaders hope a new civilian review board will help rebuild public trust in the Albany Police Department.
Board members have been looking forward to a chance to make change. "For about two months," says civilian review board member Jane Austin Taylor. It's a change that gives citizens like Jane Taylor an opportunity to give other citizens a voice. "I call it a great desire for community service. I love Albany and I love Albany's people," says Taylor.
She's part of Albany's Civilian Review Board, a nine-member board that will review citizen's complaints against police officers. Mayor Willie Adams came up with the idea. "I think it could have been anybody's idea. I think this is something that the citizens of this community in my opinion will appreciate," says Adams.
After a complaint goes through the necessary channels and the board receives a case, they'll review three main categories:
Abusive language meaning any harsh, violent, profane or derogatory language by an officer.
Excessive force which is the use of any unnecessary physical force by an official.
Harassment which includes any repeated, unwarranted verbal or physical demands.
The police department gets a number of complaints each year from citizens. "50 or 60 a year. I know they've been down in the last six months though," says Chief Bob Boren of APD. Chief Boren feels a citizen review board will bring those numbers down even more.
"I think it will show that the police department is open and honest and I don't have a problem with anyone looking over my shoulder," says Boren. A few extra sets of eyes that are independent from the the police department should build trust between citizens and law enforcement.
"I'm not suggesting that there's any distrust at this point but I think it would foster good relationships or better relationships," says Mayor Adams. It's a relationship that gives citizens options.
"The police is not the last stop. If you really feel that something has not been handled, then you have your own citizens," says Taylor. It's an effort between citizens, board members and officers to help build trust in Albany.
The board stresses they are independent of the police department so citizens should feel secure with their complaints. If you need to make a complaint, there are a couple of ways.
Mail a letter, describing the complaint to the Albany Police Department, ATTENTION: Internal Affairs, P.O. Box 447, Albany, GA 31702-0447 or call 229-431-2100 and ask to speak to a supervisor in reference to a complaint.