The St. Paul City Council decided on Wednesday night to remove police officers serving as members on a commission that reviews complaints of misconduct against police officers.
In a standing-room-only crowd at the council meeting, many showed up with signs that said “Listen to the People.” Police officers, wearing shirts that supported the St. Paul Police Federation were in favor of officers remaining on the committee.
“The Police-Civilian Internal Affairs Review Commission” included two police officers and five citizens and has been in place for more than two decades. Under the new plan proposed by the City Council, the commission is to be comprised of nine citizens. The final decision to make this change will take place next Wednesday.
According to the St. Paul Pioneer Press, the city council was leaning toward keeping police officers on the commission, but some council members were influenced by a significant amount of community members urging a civilian-only committee.
The Pioneer Press reported that one city council member who supported removing officers from the panel, Dai Thao, thanked community members for attending the meeting and “making sure that all the council members vote right this time.”
St. Paul police union president, Dave Titus, told the Pioneer Press that he believes the mayor and the majority of council members turned their backs on officers.
“The Police-Civilian Internal Affairs Review Commission has served the city with a fair, accountable and just process for more than 20 years,” Titus said in a statement. “…The decision to throw this away by making change for political reasons represents a complete and tragic disregard for our great officers who put their lives on the line every day. It boggles my mind, that the mayor and council believe the actions of officers should be judged by those less knowledgeable on the policies and procedures with zero input from actual subject-matter experts – street cops.”
Statement from St. Paul police union president Dave Titus on the City Council vote to remove officers from review commission. pic.twitter.com/NpxcWln69Q
— Mara Gottfried (@MaraGottfried) December 8, 2016
One of the two city council members who voted against removing police from the panel were Dan Bostrom and Chris Tolbert.
Bostrom told the Pioneer Press that he thought it was outrageous to remove police from the commission because officers have to make split-second decisions in their work that civilians could never understand.