Laramie City Council Votes Unanimous ‘Yes’ to Police Review Board
Despite opposition from public commenters, the Laramie City Council voted 9-0 Wednesday night in favor of a Citizen Review Board for the Laramie Police Department. This was the third and final reading of the proposal.
Councilors Joe Shumway and Brandon Newman presented early arguments opposing the ordinance but voted in line with the rest of the council.
"We've been meeting since 2020 on this issue. There's a need for us to move forward," Mayor Brian Harrington said.
"This fits Laramie. The former one did not. What we have is not that."
The review board is a revised version of a previously struck-down oversight board, which failed last year. The approved review board is essentially powerless but would serve as a "window into the community," as Vice-Mayor Sharon Cumbie stated, for open communication between police and citizens, which was the general council consensus.
According to its draft of bylaws, the board aims to "expand public transparency and further accountability in effort of promoting greater trust and understanding of law enforcement training, policies, practices, and procedures."
The board is only advisory, which "exercises no control over the policies, procedures or personnel of the Laramie Police Department."
Laramie Police Chief Brian Browne favors the review board, stating his goals for transparency and positive relations between the police department and the public.
Four of the six public commenters were against the proposal, citing concerns about overreach. Former councilor Bryan Shuster stated, "We [City Council] are the review committee for the City of Laramie," contending a review board might not provide equal representation.
Defense attorney Linda Devine spoke in favor of the board, stating the public and police need to have more opportunity for dialogue as "not everyone feels safe…particularly minorities and members of the LGBTQ community" to interact with police.
Councilor Newman, who voted no in the previous reading, said, "Skin color isn't why I'm voting no. If those people have problems, this is a public meeting. They can come address them here."
Councilor Shumway's yes vote was decided "because we have a responsibility. As long as the buck stops here, I'm ok with this. I want to make sure we stay clear with what [City Council's] responsibility is."
Laramie City Council will meet in two weeks to discuss the proposed bylaws for the Citizen Review Board.