Mayor Suthers’ statement to City Council on the creation of a Police Advisory Committee

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The Mayor’s Office and the Colorado Springs Police Department support the creation of this committee because we believe, if done right, it can result in broader community trust in the police department.  In regard to transparency for example, we think hearing from citizens as to what information they want about the department and how and in what form they want to receive it will be very constructive.

We also welcome, if done right, comparisons of the processes and procedures of our department in contrast to other departments and a determination if we’re employing best police practices.  But to do that right we believe will take a considerable amount of time.  The committee will need to fully explore and understand what our department does before making appropriate comparisons and evaluations. 

Let me give you some examples of what I’m talking about.  You like me are probably getting lots of constituent communication about social media saying we don’t employ best police practices.  “8 Can’t Wait” was the mantra.  When this committee gets into the details they’ll find that there are about 20,000 law enforcement agencies in the country and only 800 or less than 5% are accredited by CALEA, the National Commission on Accreditation of Law Enforcement Agencies, the gold standard for implementation of best practices.  Colorado Springs has been accredited for over 20 years.  That accreditation involves periodic audits to ensure continuing compliance with these standards.

And the committee will need to learn about the impacts of unionization of police and the real significance of Colorado Springs being among a few large cities that do not have a collective bargaining contract with a police union.  I predict that scrutiny of discipline and accountability of police departments around the country will reveal that police unions with collective bargaining rights are one of the greatest impediments to quick, efficient and adequate discipline of bad cops.  And the committee will need to become intimately familiar with the vetting and training Colorado Springs Police officers go through before making meaningful suggestions for improvement in that regard.

Folks, this will take time and effort, but I assure you the City and the police department will do everything possible to get the committee all the information needed to do a thorough job of carrying out its mission. 

I strongly suggest you provide an adequate period of time, two weeks or more for citizens to apply for the committee (As you know, typically the committee application process in the city is open for 30 days)  and that you take adequate time to vet applications received, so there’s a  real sense that this was a fair process.

Finally, I agree with Councilmember Williams that you will need the assistance of the City Attorney’s Office to ensure the committee is fully aware of existing charter provisions, the current role of the City’s Civil Service Commission, and other relevant legal considerations.

Thanks for the opportunity to speak in favor of what I fervently hope will be a constructive process.  

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