Colorado Springs City Council has given final approval to an ordinance to form a citizens' accountability advisory committee for police transparency. The second vote on the ordinance passed 8 to 0, with council member Don Knight excused from the meeting.
Community members like Jasmine Dunn expressed the importance of transparency when choosing people to serve on the committee. Dunn said she hoped members from the group The People 719, which collaborated on the creation of the committee proposal, would have input in the decision-making process.
"We do want this committee to have teeth, as well," said Dunn. "So I'm hoping that it is something that will actually help when it comes to making decisions with police officers that have hurt the community."
Council President Richard Skorman said it is essential the committee represent the communities directly affected by police violence.
"Some of the recommendations may be ones that are uncomfortable for some of the public officials that are at the table today," said Skorman. "We have to be able to listen, and make sure the people that are impacted are listened to."
Council member Yolanda Avila said she had reservations on the effectiveness of an advisory committee.
"I get that you guys want something to happen now, but do you really want something just because it looks good for council, it looks good for the mayor and it looks good for the police?" asked Avila. "Will it change what is happening?"
After community comments calling for urgency and continued discussion of the potential vetting process of applicants, the council passed the ordinance. Avila, who had voted against the committee's formation at a previous vote, said despite reservations she was voting in favor this time because of the community's belief in its effectiveness.
"I am going to support this because of you," said Avila. "I believe that that's what you want to happen today. I hope and I pray that you will not be betrayed."
Next steps include city council interviewing over 800 applicants to select 11 that will serve on the committee. Council member David Geislinger said during the previous day's work session the council discussed choosing the 11 committee members by the end of August.
At Tuesday's meeting, city council also voted to delay a decision on a proposed mask ordinance. It's now expected to come up at the next work session on July 27, with continued public comment at the council meeting on July 28.
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