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Calexico council set to consider amended ordinance on police commission powers

January 16, 2001|By RICHARD MONTENEGRO, Staff Writer

CALEXICO — The City Council here tonight will consider an amended version of an ordinance stating the scope of powers held by the Calexico Police Advisory Commission.

After numerous complaints about the police commission to the city, the council in November directed staff to return an amended ordinance more in tune with recent changes protecting police officers and changing what authority the commission has to investigate officers.

City Attorney Mike Rood has said the commission operating under an ordinance established nearly 20 years ago could leave the city open to litigation by officers and police personnel.

According to an updated ordinance submitted as backup material for tonight's meeting, the commission shall be a forum for citizens' complaints against the Police Department and its officers and to provide recommendations to the department as far as improving community relations.

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However, stricken from the ordinance was the commission's participation in reviewing and developing department procedures, policies and practices, and further investigation of complaints by the community against the police. The commission may only recommend further investigation to the City Council. The council would have to find an outside agency to perform the investigation.

In the updated ordinance, a nonvoting commission seat established for a member of the Calexico Police Officers' Association has been eliminated.

In addition, the chairman of the commission will no longer be able to sit in on the oral boards of any police officer, reserve officer or the chief of police, nor will he or she be involved in personnel sessions involving police disciplinary actions.

Rood is recommending the council adopt the ordinance on an emergency basis and that it take effect immediately to prevent possible litigation stemming from an upcoming Police Commission hearing.

Rood states in a letter to the city manager: "… it is important that this matter proceed quickly as I understand the commission has for the first time in seven years received a request for it to conduct a hearing regarding a complaint against an employee at the Police Department.

"I recommend against conducting such a hearing as there are numerous legal ramifications for the city," he states.

In other city business, the council will be asked to:

· consider the adoption of a "big box" ordinance limiting the sales-floor space containing nontaxable items to 5 percent or less for any retail business 100,000 or more square feet. The council will stage a public hearing for that issue;

· consider the approval of a reorganization of the city manager's office;

· consider the approval of mission and vision statements as well as a strategic cultural plan for the Calexico Arts Commission, an arm of the Imperial County Arts Council.

The council will meet at 6:30 tonight in City Hall, 608 Heber Ave.

Staff Writer Richard Montenegro can be reached at 337-3453.

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