Arlington evaluates creation of Citizen Police Oversight Board

The city of Arlington is taking steps to form its first Citizen Police Oversight Board.

The move comes as protests across the nation demand that police reform continues. The city is also trying to form a 25-member unity council to work towards equity within Arlington.

“Most of this business is to directly engage in our fight against racial discrimination and to make our city better,” said Mayor Jeff Williams.

After protests in the city demanded more accountability within the police department, Arlington is hoping to provide more transparency and another system of checks and balances on police officers.

The city is weighing options on what a Citizen Police Oversight Board would look like and the powers the board could have -- like reviewing complaints and making recommendations or having a more investigative role.

“What fits our city, what fits our department best? And we’ve got a lot of homework to do,” Williams said.

Some council members worried about the effectiveness of having a review board and questioned if there are already tools in place to review police complaints and policies.

“I’m not saying yes we need a citizen oversight committee at this point, I’m still learning, and need to know more about the effectiveness,” said councilmember Sheri Capehart.

“Most of our internal affairs complaints come from within our organization, generated by our own supervisors when they see policy infractions, and we need to be transparent to our community,” said Interim Arlington PD Chief Jaime Ayala. “We publish so many things on our website, we’re transparent about what we do.”

The city is also trying to form a unity council made up of members from the community relations commission, faith leaders, non-profits, and others.

The specific responsibilities of the council are vague, but city leaders say the goal would be to look at disparities in every sector of the city and work towards more equitable opportunities for all.

“I believe we need something. I believe that because we have what I’m going to call subtle institutional racism that often goes unrecognized,” said councilmember Dr. Ignacio Nunez.

City leaders acknowledged working toward change for the better will be a long-term effort.

“So it will be a continual journey, but yet we are trying to work so that we are able to make progress all along the way,” Williams said.