The Bemidji City Council held a listening session Monday to hear from citizens on their ideas as the city moves forward with forming a police advisory committee.
The council set a series of questions for the listening session during their meeting last week to frame the discussion, but no written submissions were read out loud during the meeting.
City staff also issued a memo outlining that state law indicates that a “civilian review board, commission, or other oversight body shall not have the authority to make a finding of fact or determination regarding a complaint against an officer or impose discipline on an officer.”
Several citizens made comments during the listening session that lasted about an hour and a half.
Charles Dolson, a Bemidji resident, referenced the Bemidji Police Department’s record of 12 complaints in the last five years against officers, and that only two complaints were filed by other officers.
David Frison, another Bemidji resident, emphasized that a police advisory board must have “teeth” or no positive change would stem from its creation.
Karin Hughes, a local criminal defense attorney, expressed that the public defender’s office should be involved on the board.
At least 20 more made comments, including candidates for Bemidji City Council.
View the entire meeting here.