Bloomington approves civilian police review board

BLOOMINGTON — Officials of a city in central Illinois are creating a community board to review public complaints against its police department.

The Bloomington City Council voted 8-1 at a meeting Monday to create the Public Safety Community Relations Board, The Pantagraph reported.

The seven-member board will review whether the Bloomington Police Department followed protocols in its own investigation of a complaint. Mayor Tari Renner said it’ll be “purely an advisory board.”

The board was established at the request of an alliance of community organizations, including American Civil Liberties Union of Central Illinois and Black Lives Matter Bloomington-Normal.

Several officers attended the meeting, and two urged the council to vote against the board.

“It seems like we are painted as racists in this town,” said Detective Steve Brown. “In the 11 years I have worked here with my brothers and sisters, I haven’t seen anyone that I have worked with stop anyone because of their race.”

Sgt. Jeff Albee said he’s been on both sides of investigations, including investigating other police officers. He said he doesn’t feel a review board is necessary, if residents are concerned about race relations.

“I have never stopped someone because of their race, and I have never sat in a car with someone who suggested we stop someone based on their race,” Albee said. “I have not made an arrest based on someone’s race, nor have I known anybody to make an arrest based on that.

ACLU Steering Committee Member Tom Cullen says the “board is an important first step in establishing police accountability.”

“The ACLU steering committee will be vigilant in ensuring this board is given the opportunity to grow and adapt to meet the changing needs of all residents of Bloomington,” he said.

–Associated Press

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