Cheyenne PD becomes first in state to have civilians on Force Review Board
CHEYENNE, Wyo. (Wyoming News Now) - The Cheyenne Police Department made Wyoming state history this month, becoming the first police force to have members of the community on a police review board.
“It took awhile to get feedback from the officers, to find the right citizens to be on the board who were community members, to train them on the whole use of force process, and so we finally reached that, and very proud to be the first agency in the state of Wyoming to have civilians part of that process,” said Cheyenne Police Department’s Chief, Brian Kozak.
Pastor Stephen Latham, Mike Solis and Melvin Turner Jr. will join Officer Greg Hutchinson, Sergeant James Peterson and Captain Jared Keslar on the Cheyenne Police Force Review Board.
The board will review all level two and level three uses of force and a small portion of level one uses. Chief Kozak defined a level two use of force as force that causes injury or could mean to cause injury. Some examples include using a taser, deploying a K-9 and use of any striking tools. Chief Kozak defined level three uses of force as force that could result in serious physical injury, hospitalization or death.
The board will review body camera footage and police reports. They will then make a decision from these five choices:
- Force is within policy, no further action.
- Force was within policy and recommendation is to commend the officer.
- Force appears to be outside of policy, officer gets training.
- Force outside of policy, investigation suggested.
- Force appears to be criminal and a criminal investigation is suggested.
One person per month makes the vote and Chief Kozak has the final say in what will be done. It means a lot to each person to be a part of this review board.
“We’re not officers, we don’t have the officers mindset, we have the mindset of the public. But I think that’s important and I think it’s important to be able to raise questions about what we read and what we see, raise questions about the policies in place,” said Solis.
“I’m also the president of our local chapter of NAACP, so being on this board means a lot because it gives me as a leader of people of color, a voice to really see if what they’re saying is true or not. I’m glad and I appreciate the chief telling me about it and giving me the opportunity to be on the board,” said Pastor Latham.
“It means actually contributing to my community. When it’s all said and done, I’ve got four children, speaking obviously as far as being a minority in this community but more than that as a member of this community. I see it as transparency, these police officers live, work, play, they have kids in this community, we’re all one community,” said Turner Jr.
Chief Kozak is excited to get the Cheyenne Police Force Review Board going and said it’s important that the police are a part of the community, and the Cheyenne community is a part of the police department.
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