Shawnee City Council to vote on citizen board for racial bias complaints

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SHAWNEE, Kan. — Above board. That is what the Shawnee Police Department wants when it comes to racial bias complaints.

Shawnee police told FOX4 they take these types of complaints very seriously. If someone believes they were pulled over in Shawnee simply because of the color of their skin, police look into it.

However, city officials are now stepping in to make sure these complaints are investigated properly. Council members are expected to help make that happen tonight.

The tensions this past summer between the Black Lives Matter movement and police nationwide caused many police departments to do some self reflection. Shawnee police realized they had a hole in their procedures.

Right now, complaints of racial bias are investigated by an advisory board appointed by the police chief. Some might wonder if they can get a fair hearing because of this.

So, police recently recommended the city create its own citizen advisory panel. The mayor would appoint a board of five people from different backgrounds to hear all complaints of racial bias against police.

There have only been five such complaints in Shawnee over the past two years. In every case, the officer was found not guilty of misconduct. Creating an advisory board separate from the police department would let citizens feel more secure they are getting a fair hearing.

“A lot of times it may be a perception issue and allowing the citizens to understand that these stops are based on violations of the law, probable cause and reasonable suspicion and not other factors is very important,” Capt. Matt Seichepine of the Shawnee Police Department said

If you live in Shawnee and want to be on this citizen advisory board to rule on accusations of racial bias, you are encouraged to reach out to City Hall and apply – that is, if the City Council approves the measure tonight.

It is expected to pass. If it does, the mayor is expected to put this board together by the end of June.

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