Citizens Review Police Board will discuss protests and CPD at first meeting in three months

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COLUMBIA — The Citizens Police Review Board, CPRB, held its first meeting on Wednesday since the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the state.

At least 30 people showed up to the meeting, filling almost every seat in the room. The board voted to move public comment to the beginning of the meeting. Public testimony lasted more than an hour.

“We don’t think all police officers are bad,” Peoples Defense founder Roy Lovelady said. “We do know that it’s time for change. there are some that...are very prejudice, shall I say. we want to be treated as equals.”

A mother brought her kids to the meeting and said she wants to make sure things change for them.

“I don’t want to have to worry about my kids when they get older and what their experience is going to be with the police - any police,” Jacquelyn said.

“How many more Black bodies need to die for the police department to realize they need to listen to Black folks?” Race Matters, Friends secretary David Aguayo said.

Last month, the Attorney General’s office released the data for traffic stops in Missouri. It showed Black drivers to be 95% more likely to be pulled over than white drivers.

Aguayo said he was “speechless” and “angry” when he read the 2019 report.

Since its release, protests against racial injustice have taken over the streets of Columbia – and all over the country – with many people citing police brutality and harassment as a main issue.

Mayor Brian Treece spoke at one of those protests over the weekend, saying he told city leaders to review its “use of force” policies last week. KOMU 8 followed up on that statement with CPD’s Chief Geoff Jones.

"We are taking steps to finalize plans to move forward regarding CPD's use of force/training policies,” he said in an email. “Prior to releasing any information, I would like to discuss those plans with members of City Council.”

“They’re going around, taking surveys, but they’re not changing the infrastructure of CPD,” Aguayo said.

Chad McLaurin, treasurer of Race Matters, Friends, regularly attends CPRB meetings and said he was hoping there would be heightened interest in the meeting. 

“I have the hope that with this kind of momentum that it goes until we start seeing massive reform,” McLaurin said.

Christopher Watkins Jr. went to his first CPRB meeting on Wednesday night.

“If we don't go, we don't know,” he said. “If we want to know information, we have to go to certain meetings that we don't hear about or that we normally don't go to, to find out what's going on in our city and in our community.”

He said he is hoping to learn more about how to teach future generations how to better conduct themselves.

“We have to change our community first before we can change the world, so that's the whole purpose of us being so willing to just show up and have these conversations,” Watkins Jr. said.