Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert has named new members to the Citizen Complaint Review Board, which will independently investigate citizen complaints against police officers.
The board is made up of one representative from each police precinct, an at-large member, and an alternate member. Roger Garcia will represent the Southeast Precinct, Richard Westcott in the Southwest Precinct, Teela Mickels in the Northeast Precinct, and Travis Justice in the Northwest Precinct. Connie Shively will serve as the at-large member, while Rev. James Walker will serve as the alternate member.
The initial members of the review board were appointed in 2014. One member moved from Omaha, a second resigned for health reasons. The remaining four members resigned in April, citing several reasons, including a lack of appeals filed by citizens. During their term, citizens asked the board to review 16 cases. Many of those cases did not meet the requirements for review by the board. Some of the incidents had occurred many years ago, and fell outside the board's jurisdiction. In other cases, the citizen had not first filed an internal affairs complaint.
"The board we have selected is very diverse in age, ethnicity, personal and professional background, and they are all highly qualified," Mayor Stothert explained.
Here’s how the process works; a person files a complaint with Internal Affairs if they feel an officer treated them improperly. They meet with a sergeant to discuss what happened, and it's then investigated. The conclusions are brought to Chief Schmaderer who then makes a decision on if a violation occurred and the consequences. If no discipline is imposed, the filer needs to make an appeal to the Citizens Complaint Review Board.
"We're charged to be independent. I think that's the core focus there, so we can definitely disagree if one day we hypothetically have to disagree with the chief and that's just something we'll have to do because we're independent, we care about the community," said Roger Garcia, a board member.
Board members will go through 8 hours of training with the law department, human resources, and OPD. They'll also have to do at least two police ride alongs.