Citizens review board of law enforcement proposed

Staff Writer
Devils Lake Journal
The Devils Lake Police Department has seen a lot of change this year, as the two top officers were fired for performance-related issues. It was proposed at Monday’s city meeting that a citizens review board may be another tool to provide oversight at the department.

A community member at Monday’s City Commission meeting proposed the formation of a citizens review board of law enforcement actions.

Jessica Ramey, who said that she’s lived in Devils Lake for 26 years, spoke before the commission about the idea.

“There needs to be a reconnect between the community and all law enforcement in the area,” Ramey said.

The commission seemed open to the idea, possibly in light of the fallout from the recent firings of the department’s police chief and captain last month.

That led to questions about oversight and other issues that had clearly plagued the city’s police department for years.

Other cities of various sizes have similar citizen review boards, such as St. Paul, Minn. Ramey said that she believes a cross-section of the community should be represented that includes all races, genders and economic statuses.

Questions about what power the review board would have, how exactly it would function, and what the board would be able to do from a legal standpoint remain open.

Chief Jim Frank expressed some interest in the idea, though cautiously.

"I guess there's some merit to it, but I don't know what all their involvement would be,” Frank said.

Before such a board would become functional, a charter would have to be written, and further research as to the relationship between local law enforcement and the board would be part of any discussion. Ramey claimed that 200 such boards exist nationwide.