A bill that limits civilians from sitting on police review boards and has already passed the Arizona House of Representatives is being introduced in the Senate.
The GOP-backed bill HB2567 requires that at least two-thirds of the members on police disciplinary boards be sworn officers from the same department as the officer facing review.
Repubican Rep. and sponsor of the bill John Kavanagh argued that boards overseeing other professions are usually dominated by members within that profession. He told KTAR News of Phoenix’s proposal to eliminate officers from the board altogether, calling it “ridiculous.”
“You take all the cops off these boards, you’re removing a lot of valuable knowledge and experience,” he said.
A minority of Democrats and civil rights activists opposed the bill, calling it a step back from the goal of ensuring public accountability of police officers.
“The purpose of civilian review boards is to increase public access to the complaint system, promote transparency, reduce conflicts of interests in internal investigations and discipline and promote public trust in the criminal legal system,” said Marilyn Rodriguez, a lobbyist on behalf of the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona. She argued that the bill would undermine these goals.
Another bill passed in the House aims to require police officer training for civilians who wish to sit on the board. Bill H2462, introduced by Republican Kevin Payne, mandates either training from a community college police academy or 80 hours of state certified police training, and bans those with felonies or who fail to pass the physical fitness test.
Joe Clure, executive director of the Arizona Police Association, argued that the bill “simply trains people, educates people, so they are better equipped to review officers’ actions.”
Opposition believe that requiring training is a way to block civilians from participating in officer review. Roxanna Pitones, a lobbyist with League of Arizona League of Cities and Towns, said “We think the requirements outlined in the bill are a bridge too far and will have a chilling effect on the public’s ability to participate on these boards.”
Clure responded to the idea that the bill is an attempt to block people by calling it “absolutely ludicrous.”
Both measures have passed the House with Republican support and will now move to the Senate where Republicans hold a majority of 16 out of 30 seats.