Statements by the Panel and Co-Chairs
This page contains statements published byBoulder Police Oversight Board. The most recent statements are at the top of the page.
Letter from the Co-Chairs
Ariel Amaru and Daniel Leonard
In 2019, Zayd Atkinson was approached by a member of the Boulder Police while tending the property around his home. Emblematic of deep and systematic biases in policing in the United States, community leaders came together to rethink police oversight and discipline.
In 2020, communities across the country rallied for change in their communities following the wrongful executions of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor by police. Boulder community leaders completed Ordinance 8430 and established the Office of the Independent Police Monitor and Police Oversight Board.
In 2021 we got to work.
The City of Boulder's first Police Oversight Board worked with the Independent Monitor and the Police Department to create a municipal oversight of the police force. Presenters are full members of the Boulder community. We work full-time—as lawyers, social workers, business people, students, teachers—and then we volunteer our nights and weekends to do that work. We are united by the urgent need to bring accountability, insight and oversight to policing.
Regulation 8430 made no empty statements about diversity in panelist selection. We are the ones marginalized by our community and our police force. We are People of Color, Women, LGTBQ and people who have been homeless or previously incarcerated. Ordinance 8430 determined our presence and enabled us to carry out this work. The conversation was often controversial. The panel sought to challenge systemic norms. The community mobilized to demand change. In this first year it becomes clear that police supervision only works with real diversity of power and space.
Our biggest achievement this year was the creation of our bylaws to supplement regulation 8430. The process was time consuming. We work through the research, writing, legal review, and public comment phases. We worked through each subsequent panel in our hearts and minds, knowing that even the smallest decisions would linger in the future. While we are proud of the statutes adopted in March 2022, we also leave them incomplete forever. Our guidance going forward is that these bylaws, and even regulation 8430, are living documents that must change and grow with the needs of the community.
As you will read in this report, in early 2021 we began reviewing allegations and community investigations into police conduct. In this work, the panel has already proven its worth in terms of perspective and advice. We launch additional investigations into police behavior, recommend lasting policy changes, and recommend appropriate discipline and reform. Sometimes we disagree with the police department on the final outcome of cases. At other times we changed the way the police thought and got results with the department. We cannot all be satisfied with all of our disputes and will continue to work on redress and remedial procedures. Nonetheless, we can be proud of the department's increased oversight and our intent to bring about the lasting change our community demands of us.
From the start, we wanted to dive deep into the data, examine our history and use it to shape the policies for our future. Unfortunately, Injustice didn't keep good records of their activities. Previously, the data and records of police activity and the use of force in our community have not been subjected to thorough analysis or effective public transparency, making them insufficient to quickly address our current needs for understanding and progress. This is systemic injustice. It will take time to modify and extract the information we need. In 2021, the Office of the Police Monitor and Police Oversight Panel released the first of these annual reports, flipping the page with the Boulder Police Department. Our mission now is a comprehensive, actionable, publicly available collection of data on the use of force, community grievances and any other relevant data on police behavior. Our community encourages this awareness in our policing. We on this panel demand that our future includes an objective assessment of our effectiveness in transforming policing in our community.
In the coming year, we look forward to regular community engagement, deeper analysis of police use of force with Police Monitor, and recruiting new panel members.
Today's message to our community is that our work has only just begun.
Statement on Boulder County NAACP's request to review previously closed cases
Members of the Panel: Unanimously
Sent: October 22, 2021
The Boulder Police Oversight Board is still preparing its charter in conjunction with Executive Order 8430. We, the Board members, recognize the request by the Boulder County Section of the NAACP to review a 2014 investigation into allegations against the late Officer Eric Talley. Accordingly, the panel ceased its work to receive communications outside of the established complaints procedures, to consult legal counsel and to determine its competence in this area.
The panel believes that the review of this case was not brought before the panel in good faith because communications between the Boulder NAACP and the Boulder Police Department, which included a meeting and presentation of the investigation, proceeded without panel participation . The panel only became aware of the conflict hours before the confrontation at a public meeting, without adequate time to review materials submitted by the NAACP or the Independent Police Monitor, and only after both members of the press had already given interviews to the NAACP and the NAACP and the Boulder Police Department.
The committee is committed to transparency and fairness. We recognize our critical role as the premier Boulder Police Oversight Panel in determining the legitimacy of this work and must act with ethical and legal integrity. The panel is not accountable in practice or in law to the Boulder NAACP or the Boulder Police Department. We are responsive to our community and hold community trust sacred.
The board is not influenced by threats to its legitimacy, crossing personal lines with its members, or other coercive tactics. We look forward to working with our community and representative organizations with grace and openness.
The panel's community volunteers consulted counsel on Executive Order 8430 and the panel's jurisdiction over grievances, where the Boulder Police Commissioner has already made recommendations. Prosecutors revised Ordinance 8430 approved by Boulder City Council, telling the panel that the law gives them the power to review an investigation and access necessary evidence before the police chief makes a final decision. Therefore, the panel does not have the legal authority to review cases where the police chief has already made a final decision, nor does the City of Boulder or the Boulder Police Department have the legal authority to provide the panel with the necessary evidence and reports necessary to conduct a further investigation complete review of these cases.
Finally, the body has no judicial powers, nor does it exercise any judicial function in any way. The panel also has no authority to conduct investigations, only having the authority to review investigations conducted by the Boulder Police Department's Professional Standards Unit.
Historical review of policing and policy practice is the panel's remit through requesting and reviewing non-case specific data and is a critical component to effecting real change. Regulation 8430 grants the panel special access to request historical data on policing and patterns of use of force in the Boulder community. Accordingly, the panel plans to request additional information to review past and current patterns of officers' use of force or threats of use of force out of uniform and to consider policy recommendations.
In its tentative charters, the body also established initiatives specifically focused on analyzing and understanding our past to better define policy recommendations for our future. This includes a process of regularly reviewing historical information - including data collected prior to the formation of the panel - to identify trends and make policy recommendations. As part of the process, the panel will present opportunities for public participation to jointly interpret historical data and help develop policy recommendations to address any inequalities.
Affected stakeholders and additional measures
The Panel will not maintain exclusive relationships with any organization, individual or other entity to lodge grievances in its future work. Like many community representatives, the panel is committed to providing an independent and fair review of our police force.
Finally, the panel sees the value and intends to create avenues for outreach and communication. The exact way forward is still being developed and we are open to community suggestions for optimal community engagement.
The Panel recognizes and readily accepts its responsibility to stop all patterns of inappropriate use of force by the Boulder Police Department for the safety and well-being of our community. However, at this time there is no legal way for the panel to comply with the Boulder NAACP's specific requests to review this particular investigation. To pressure others or ourselves to attempt an action that is not legally sanctioned by Regulation 8430 would jeopardize the legitimacy and continuity of the panel.