Police Review Board Appointee Arrested

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COLUMBIA - The Columbia City Council voted on a new appointee for the Citizens Police Review Board at  Monday night's meeting.

There's just one problem.

The board itself, is who may need additional reivew when it comes to selecting candidates. Appointee Merwyn Alexander was arrested Friday, on suspicion of first degree child molestation. The Boone County Sheriff's Department confirmed Alexander was released on a $10,000 bond Saturday evening.

Third Ward Councilman Gary Kespohl got wind of the arrest in the meeting, hours after the 4-3 vote in favor of Alexander. Alexander would fill board member John McClure's place when his three-year term expires November 1.

Kespohl didn't reveal how he found out about the arrest, but motioned for the council to reconsider the appointment. The seat is now open for a future decision.

Here's a look at the Citizens Police Review Board's background, leading up to Monday's bombshell:

July 2009 - Columbia City Council voted unanimously to create a police review board.

August 2009 - City Council members will appoint eight of the nine board members. The Human Rights Commission will choose the last member. KOMU 8 News interviewed McClure about the need for the board.

"Because there's been a history of miscommunication and different levels of expectations... there's a pretty large area of mistrust between the community and police department," McClure said.

That mistrust may now extend to the the board itself.

Early 2010 - The board started hearing cases. The first was a case from December 2009, regarding the question of whether officer Nathan Turner used excessive force against Derek Billups. The allegations grew out of a night club dispute.

November 2010 - After investigation, the board found Turner's actions were not proper and ruled against the police department, who had cleared Turner of misconduct. Police Chief Ken Burton then slammed the ruling, saying in a statement, "There is simply not enough evidence to prove or disprove the allegation."

At the board's infancy, they considered what may now be an ironic question: Can members of the police review board have criminal pasts? At the time, they made it clear that all candidates must undergo criminal background checks.

 It's a question to revisit now, as the search for answers is sure to begin.