ANDERSON — Anderson City Council spent 90 minutes Thursday discussing the future of the Civilian Review Board that was created by an ordinance adopted in 2011, reaching a consensus that the ordinance should be revised.
The discussion centered around a meeting of the CRB last week concerning a citizen’s complaint against Anderson Police Chief Tony Watters at which there were not the required five of nine members to conduct a meeting.
“There has been a lot of resistance to the Civilian Review Board,” said Councilman Ollie H. Dixon, who authored the original ordinance. “We want to get representation for every citizen and taxpayer in Anderson. We need to look at revising the ordinance and getting the Civilian Review Board back on track.”
At the CRB meeting last week, Council President Rebecca Crumes said there was a problem with getting the board members to attend the meetings. She wants to review how the board's nine members are appointed. The current criteria allows each of the council members to make an appointment, she said.
There is a process by which city council by majority vote can name someone to the CRB if a member doesn’t attend meetings or if a council member fails to make an appointment.
When councilman Jon Bell asked if there was an attendance policy for CRB members, Dixon said that if a member misses two of three consecutive meetings, that person can be replaced.
Bell said the CRB should put an attendance policy in writing.
Jewel Morgan, chairwoman of the CRB, said there is no written policy in place, but that one would be helpful.
She explained the CRB meets only when there is a complaint to be considered.
It was recommended the CRB set a regular monthly meeting schedule and cancel meetings when there is no complaint to be considered.
“It’s the responsibility of the council members to make sure their appointees attend the meetings,” Dixon said.
Another problem at the last meeting was that there was no agenda posted in advance as required by the Indiana Open Door law.
Councilman Joe Newman said the meeting was not legal because an agenda was not posted.
It was decided by the council to provide CRB members with a copy of the Indiana Open Door law.
Local resident Lindsay Brown said the CRB is needed in Anderson, but gaps in the original ordinance must be revised.
“The ordinance is outdated,” Brown said. “It needs more teeth in it.”
Former CRB member Randy Willis said he would like to serve again on the board and the name should be changed to the Civilian Advisory Board.
Willis said an advocate should be named to represent local residents who are reluctant to address city officials.
“There should be no fear of reprisals,” he said.
Follow Ken de la Bastide on Twitter @KendelaBastide, or call 640-4863.