The student newspaper of Washington and Lee University

The Ring-tum Phi

The student newspaper of Washington and Lee University

The Ring-tum Phi

The student newspaper of Washington and Lee University

The Ring-tum Phi

All content by Anneliese Scheider
The Lexington police department is implementing a citizen’s advisory board, to become active in January.
 
The Board, composed of five to seven civilians, will advise Lexington’s police chief on topics such as use of force, mental health concerns and other police policies and procedures.
 
As an advisory, rather than an oversight board, this group will not have any investigative power, but will serve to help the department better understand the community’s concerns.
 
Police Chief Angela Greene introduced the idea at  the Nov. 18 Lexington City Council meeting in November.
 
“This will provide increased transparency on our police procedures, practices, and policies, with input and recommendations from our community board members on how to improve police services and enhance their quality of life,” she said.
 
The board will be made up of citizens representing a cross-section of the city’s population.
 
Greene envisions the group as “representing a diverse group of residents, business owners, school leaders, faith-based clergy, and/or college students.”
 
In an email, she further explained her reasoning for proposing the board.
 
“It is vital to have honest two-way communication on how the police department can increase their trust and transparency with our citizens,” Greene said.

National issues will also be taken into consideration, Greene said.
 
“This forum also allows individuals to discuss hot topic issues or concerns that have occurred in other parts of the nation related to law enforcement actions and responses, with an opportunity for the Lexington police department to listen to our citizens’ voices on what policies, training and tactics they feel are most beneficial in protecting our community members,” Greene said.
 
Members of City Council expressed their support for the implementation of the board.
 
“The Chief’s new advisory board will give citizens an opportunity to share concerns with her and perhaps action will result in addressing those concerns,” Council Member Charles Aligood said in an email. “This is a good step and I congratulate and commend the new chief, Angela Greene, for creating it.”
 
 Aligood said the city intentionally chose an advisory board instead of one with oversight authority. .
 
 The Virginia General Assembly passed legislation in late 2020 authorizing localities to establish Law Enforcement Civilian Oversight Bodies, Aligood said.

Aligood said he suggested creating an oversight board in Lexington but met resistance from other city officials.
 
“My sense was that the remainder of Council as well as the city manager did not want to establish a COB that would have the powers authorized in the legislation,” Aligood said.
 
In the end, the advisory board was seen as the best fit for Lexington.
 
“As I see it, currently, Lexington citizens are satisfied with our police department, as I am also,” Aligood said. “The establishment of a COB would be for that time in the future when there are issues where questions of fair treatment concern the community.”
 
The board will meet four times a year, with the first meeting anticipated to take place in late January 2022.
 
Members will be chosen through an application process and will serve two-year terms.
 
Being an official Lexington resident is not a requirement, but having a vested interest in the community is.
 
Students from W&L are invited to apply. Greene explained in an email what she hopes college students will bring to the board.
 
“As to the perspective of college students, they are a large part of our Lexington community with unique concerns that we want to hear,” she said. .
 
“College students bring a different viewpoint and outlook on the world,” Greene said. “More importantly, as our future leaders we want college students to be an integral part in understanding community policing efforts, as well as assisting with the formulation of modern police practices that will enhance everyone’s quality of life.”
 
Applicants must be at least 20 years old and will need to submit to a criminal background check.
 
Applications are open on the Lexington Police department’s website until Dec. 29 at 5 p.m.

Police chief launches citizen’s advisory board

The board will advise Lexington’s police chief on a variety of department practices and procedures.
Anneliese Scheider
December 14, 2021
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