Champaign councilman calls for citizen police review board

_Editor’s note: The previous headline for this story read, “Champaign City Council creates review board.” This headline did not accurately reflect the contents of the story or of Tuesday evening’s city council meeting. The council itself did not create a review board; rather, one councilmember proposed the idea during the regular meeting. The Daily Illini regrets the error._

A Champaign councilman called for the creation of a citizen police review board to improve the relationship between the community and police that some have seen as strained over the past few years.

Will Kyles, District 1, discussed his proposal during the city’s regular meeting Tuesday. Kyles said the idea of a citizen review board first came up four years ago, but he felt now would be the best time to start one.

He said “we must equip the police with the proper tools” to improve outreach with the community, particularly the African-American community. These tools should include intangible items such as a review board, he added.

The creation of a review board may draw more frustration from critics claiming another layer of government is being added, but Kyles said it is necessary because the relationship between the two sides needs to improve.

“Even with the changes made, we still have a ways to go,” Kyles said.

He added the board is worth attempting because it may be what the community needs to be better informed about policing issues. Kyles said he believes there is a group of residents in Champaign who do not fully understand how the Champaign Police run, such as what qualifies as aggressive and excessive force.

Under his proposal, Kyles said the citizen board review would be up for evaluations, if needed, in order to verify the validity of this type of citizen commission.

“You never know how something works unless you try,” Kyles said.

In addition to this discussion, the council approved the acquisition of ten properties on Robinson Court for $900,000 as part of the Washington Street drainage project. The $12 million project will include four detention basins and new storm sewers in that location as part of drainage improvement. Families displaced from these households will receive $800 from the city in compensation.

The bill also includes an engineering services agreement between the city and Dietz, Inc. for $292,685. The contract calls for Dietz, Inc. to survey the land, finalize a design and a construction and acquisition contract.

The council also gave city staff direction to continue exploring a show-up fee for towing services and direction toward the implementation of the In-fill Development Strategic Plan. The straw poll approval also gives the city an opportunity to reclassify four parking lot sites into development alternatives, including Parking Lot J in Campustown.