Published Tuesday, February 11, 2014 at 1:00 am / Updated at 4:02 pm
Midlands Voices
Midlands Voices: Review board won’t provide oversight

The writer, of Lincoln, is legal director for the ACLU of Nebraska.

The recently announced Citizen Complaint Review Board will fail to provide real accountability and oversight of police for the people of Omaha. The plan, as announced, provides for no meaningful independence.

Mayor Jean Stothert, much like the great wizard, hopes that no one will look behind the curtain. Residents of Omaha should not be fooled by the lights and smoke, and they should continue to demand meaningful reform.

The accountability and oversight truly needed in Omaha should have three goals:

>> Keep all residents safe.

>> Treat people fairly.

>> Use our tax dollars wisely.

The years of complaints that the ACLU office has received, as well as a review of best practices successfully implemented in other cities around the country, leads me to believe the mayor’s plan will fail on all three fronts.

Under the new board plan, the mayor and the chief of police — the very people who need independent oversight — would have the ability to micromanage the appointment and actions of the review board.

Any review board that is to provide meaningful oversight needs to have members selected by someone outside the city government’s executive branch.

The board also needs the ability to act without the approval of the Mayor’s Office and interference from Omaha Police Department command staff. Additionally, the plan requires the board to be reactive and wait for complaints, rather than considering ways to improve practices in Omaha on an ongoing basis.

People in Omaha have serious concerns, and they should be disturbed by the inability of the mayor’s plan to address them in a meaningful way.

By failing to provide independent oversight, this board will not increase trust and safety.

Numerous studies have shown that an individual who does not have trust in law enforcement is often unwilling to report a crime or participate in investigations. This new board will not build the community trust needed to make Omaha a safer community.

We don’t need to wait until a review board receives a complaint to address the growing list of concerns from residents about unfair practices in Omaha. The allegations of evidence tampering, racial bias, excessive force and other forms of misconduct in the past few years alone demonstrate that reform is needed now.

Because the board will not provide the accountability and oversight needed to keep Omaha safe and ensure fair treatment of all residents, it will be a waste of taxpayer dollars.

Omaha police investigate two Sunday shootings
Sole big donor to Beau McCoy says he expects nothing in return
Firefighters battle brush fire near Fontenelle Forest
Sioux City riverboat casino prepares to close, still hoping to be saved
Omaha high schoolers to help canvass for Heartland 2050
Mizzou alumni aim to attract veterinary students to Henry Doorly Zoo
Grant ensures that Sioux City can start building children's museum
Party looks to 'nudge' women into public office in Iowa
For birthday, Brownell-Talbot student opts to give, not get
Two taken to hospital after fire at Benson home
Grace: Pipe organ concert a tribute to couple's enduring love
Omaha-area jails and ERs new front line in battling mental illness
Convicted killer Nikko Jenkins might await his sentence in prison
Kelly: 70 years after a deadly D-Day rehearsal, Omahan, WWII vet will return to Europe
Civil rights hearing to consider voting policies in Midwest
17 senators in Nebraska Legislature hit their (term) limits
It's a pursuit of pastel at Spring Lake Park's Easter egg hunt
Financial picture improving for city-owned Mid-America Center
No injuries after fire at midtown's old Mercer Mansion
29-year-old Omahan arrested for 22nd time in Lincoln
Police: Slaying of woman in Ralston apartment likely over drugs
Explosion near 29th, Woolworth damages vehicles
Omaha police arrest man, 19, accused in March shooting
Earth gets its day in the sun at Elmwood Park
Beau McCoy strikes Obama doll in TV ad; Democrats are not happy
< >
COLUMNISTS »
Kelly: 70 years after a deadly D-Day rehearsal, Omahan, WWII vet will return to Europe
A World War II veteran from Omaha will return this week to Europe to commemorate a tragedy in the run-up to D-Day.
Dickson’s Week in Review, April 13-19
On Twitter some guy tweeted that the spring game isn’t taken as seriously as a regular-season contest. What was your first clue? When the head coach entered waving a cat aloft?
Kelly: A California university president returns to her Nebraska roots on Ivy Day
The main speaker at today's Ivy Day celebration at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln is a college president who grew up roping calves and earned her Ph.D. at the prestigious Oxford University in England.
Breaking Brad: Stuck in a claw machine? You get no Easter candy
I know of one kid in Lincoln who will be receiving a lump of coal from the Easter Bunny, just as soon as he's extricated from that bowling alley claw machine.
Breaking Brad: Mountain lion season's over, but the bunny's fair game!
Thursday was the last day of a Nebraska Legislature session. Before leaving town, legislators passed a bill to hold a lottery to hunt the Easter Bunny.
Deadline Deal thumbnail
The Jaipur in Rockbrook Village
Half Off Fine Indian Cuisine & Drinks! $15 for Dinner, or $7 for Lunch
Buy Now
PHOTO GALLERIES »
< >
SPOTLIGHT »
Omaha World-Herald Contests
Enter for a chance to win great prizes.
OWH Store: Buy photos, books and articles
Buy photos, books and articles
Travel Snaps Photo
Going on Vacation? Take the Omaha World-Herald with you and you could the next Travel Snaps winner.
Click here to donate to Goodfellows
The 2011 Goodfellows fund drive provided holiday meals to nearly 5,000 families and their children, and raised more than $500,000 to help families in crisis year round.
WORLD-HERALD ALERTS »
Want to get World-Herald stories sent directly to your home or work computer? Sign up for Omaha.com's News Alerts and you will receive e-mails with the day's top stories.
Can't find what you need? Click here for site map »