AKRON, Ohio — The calls to change how complaints against police officers are investigated in Akron have been growing louder since the fatal shooting of Jayland Walker by police officers in June.
Many in the city have been looking for police accountability through the creation of a civilian review board.
Akron city council has voted to place a community-led initiative for a civilian review board on this November’s ballot. Meanwhile, the mayor of Akron has his own competing proposal for a police oversight board.
City council said they are taking more time to review the ordinance proposed by the mayor and might not vote on it for a few weeks.
With two potential options for a civilian review board, it’s very possible that Akron could join a growing list of cities with a role for citizens in police oversight.
“So it is becoming more popular in the profession to add that extra layer of oversight in police departments,” Akron Police Chief Steve Mylett said. “If this gives the community even more confidence that there is nothing that we are hiding and we are putting everything out, then I think it could be a good thing.”
When asked about which ordinance he thinks would better suit the department, the chief chose not say. He said he likes the flexibility the mayor’s ordinance would provide over a charter amendment.
“I’m not going to get into that,” he said. “I do like the idea of trial periods because we may implement something and realize we may need to strengthen it over here. We need to just tweak it a little bit before the final product is unveiled.”
Mylett said he hopes a board would be beneficial to both the department and the community.
“One of the things that I have been grateful for is that I have been able to have some input into this,” he said. “The mayor is listening, and I believe that the council is listening, so collaboratively, hopefully, we will be able to come up with something that serves the community well.”
Mylett said after a tense few months between officers and community members, he hopes to restore and build better relationships.
“I’ve got tremendous compassion for everyone, the people who have been impacted by our decision making as police officers,” Mylett said. “I’ve got compassion for our police officers and the role and the positions they have been placed in and the decisions they have had to make and the scrutiny they have been under. But my hope is we will get past this.”
He said he has been working on his own program to help strengthen community relations and he will announce details within the next few weeks.
“I will be unveiling a program that I have put together,” he said. “I think [it] will have a positive impact in the relationship between the police and community.”