AKRON, Ohio (WJW) — The fatal police-involved shooting of Jayland Walker in June became the catalyst for the creation of a citizen’s police oversight board in Akron, a nine-member panel to review policies and procedures, as well as investigate complaints against officers and the department.
The application process for the board closed on Tuesday with 112 people completing applications to be part.
City Council and the mayor are now in the process of whittling those applicants down to the nine who will be the first to serve.
They have until next Friday, Feb. 6, to do so.
“It’s going to be a learning curve for everybody when it comes to this, but I think that’s also part of the exciting part of how the board can help with the communication side and with the accountability side and help build those bridges and build trust within the community which was always the goal,” said Akron Mayor Daniel Horrigan.
Horrigan will have three choices of the 9 and will need a simple majority of council for approval.
Council will name six members of the board and will need a supermajority, two-thirds of the board to approve.
Per the charter passed overwhelmingly by voters in November at least one member should be an attorney with criminal justice and/or civil rights experience.
Another member should be between the ages of 18 and 35.
A member of the faith-based community, a member with professional background in mental health services and a member with professional background in law enforcement.
No more than two members can be from the same ward.
“I think it’s just about having open honest transparency. I think that’s the problem that needs to be solved. I think a lot of times before the chief got here the police investigated the police it wasn’t until Chief Mylett that they actually sent them out for an investigation so now we add another component,” said Akron Councilwoman Tara Mosley.
Fox 8 has learned that some of those scheduled to be interviewed by a committee of city council include attorney Imokhai Okolo, Rev. R. Stacey Jenkins, and Rev. Ray Green of the Freedom Bloc, who has advocated for accountability and justice alongside the family of Jayland Walker.
“I think a lot of people think they just want to police the police and that’s not what it is about,” said Mosley, who says her ideal candidate would be someone born and raised in Akron who cares about the community.
Horrigan says he, too, intends to choose candidates who care deeply about the city and are “authentic.”
“Somebody who can put themselves in the shoes of a police officer and so whether that is going on ride-a-longs or whether they are going on emergency calls, something like that just to give yourself a sense of what that environment is. I think all that experience helps a board member,” said Horrigan.
In September, Mylett told Fox 8 News he welcomes the board if it achieves the goal of better transparency and trust between the community and his department.
“I understand the communities desire for more transparency and demanding their police department is the most professional that it could possibly be and I’m supportive of that and if it gives the community confidence that there is another independent group that is looking at the police closely then I think that’s a win.”