Colorado Springs City Council Finalizing Police Commission Candidates

September 15, 2020
Downtown Colorado Springs in 2019.Downtown Colorado Springs in 2019.Courtesy of the City of Colorado Springs
Downtown Colorado Springs in 2019.

Colorado Springs City Council will soon finalize the members of a new commission aimed at providing policy input on the Colorado Springs Police Department. As written, the Law Enforcement Transparency and Accountability Commission will have 11 members, with two alternates.

Council deliberated applicants on Monday and the city expects to appoint the members at the Sept. 22 council meeting.

Push for reforms started with De'Von Bailey's death

The death of De'Von Bailey in August 2019 highlighted a desire for police accountability and transparency in Colorado Springs. Bailey, a Black teenager, was shot and killed by white CSPD officers.

Community members like Deb Walker, former executive director of Citizens Project, and Stephany Rose Spaulding, helped organize a forum in February with Police Chief Vince Niski to discuss the need for civilian oversight of the police department.

Walker and Spaulding, along with two CSPD officers, council president Richard Skorman and council member Wayne Williams came together in March to discuss policing. They attended an academic symposium by the National Association for Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement to learn national best practices with the intention of presenting their findings to the council during a June work session. The group was later given the name the "Austin Group," as the symposium took place in Austin, Texas.

The killing of George Floyd in May and of other Black people across the country in subsequent weeks led to national protests. Community members in Colorado Springs demanded more immediate action which sped up the Austin Group's timeline.

Over several months, city council members heard public comment and held work sessions to discuss the formation of a group to address policing in the city. Two groups presented recommendations for how to proceed, with a proposal by a group of young activists called The People 719 eventually approved by the city council with modifications. 

Both activists in the community and council member Yolanda Avila voiced concerns about the proposal as it moved through work sessions. Avila initially voted against it, calling it "lukewarm," but later voted in favor to support the community's faith in its effectiveness.

"I am going to support this because of you," Avila said at the time. "I believe that that's what you want to happen today. I hope and I pray that you will not be betrayed."

Where the Colorado Springs police commission stands now

Colorado Springs City Council passed the ordinance to form the Law Enforcement Transparency and Accountability Commission in mid-July. The ordinance stated the commission's goals were to help the council with resource allocation for the police department, providing a sounding board for community and law enforcement needs, providing policy recommendations and improving relationships between the police department and the community. Commission members should represent the diversity of the city, with each council district being represented by at least one person in the commission.

Over 800 applicants applied to be on the committee, and 27 people were eventually interviewed between the end of August and the beginning of September. 

Council members held a work session on Sept. 14 to discuss candidates to appoint to the commission. The 11 candidates put forth for appointment were as follows:

  • Deb Walker (District 1)
  • Brent Windebank (District 2)
  • Rachel Flick (District 3)
  • Terry Martinez (District 3)
  • Luis Velez (District 3)
  • Justin Baker (District 4)
  • Janice Frazier (District 4)
  • Dennis Moore (District 4)
  • Steve Kern (District 5)
  • Joe Aldaz (District 6)
  • Kate Angulski (District 6)

Two alternates were Rosita Camargo (District 4) and Felicia Embry (District 5). The city council is set to present the 11 members and two alternates for an appointment at the Sept. 22, 2020 council meeting.