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Policing the police


The most tangible thing to come out of the review of the way complaints against the police are handled was the addition of a community advocate to the Civilian Review Board. The advocate's purpose is to help people through a process that can be emotional, complicated, and lengthy.

Members of City Council got a one-year update on the advocate's work at a meeting last week. And Council members raised additional questions and concerns about the complaint process.

Thirty-eight percent of people who filed a complaint against the police in 2013 requested the advocate's assistance, says a summary completed by the Center for Dispute Settlement, which runs the Civilian Review Board. The advocate also fielded 96 informal inquiries — 19 of which developed into formal complaints.

It's clear that CDS sees the advocate as integral to its goal to improve police-community relations. To that end, the part-time advocate gave 34 public outreach presentations in 2013.

The advocate will continue her outreach activities in 2014, the report says, with an emphasis on youth initiatives.

Council members asked CDS representatives for proof that the advocate is helping. And some at the meeting said that awareness of the advocate is lacking.

It's clear, too, that many Council members believe the process to resolve complaints still takes too long — on average, four to six months.

"It seems like there's a casualness to getting these things resolved," said City Council President Loretta Scott.

This is a corrected version of this story.