Greater Harrisburg's Community Magazine

Harrisburg council proposes citizen’s advisory board to guide policing policy, improve relations

Harrisburg police vehicle

Harrisburg is reviving a proposal to create a citizen’s advisory board to help improve relations and communications between city residents and the Police Bureau.

City Council on Tuesday night introduced an ordinance that would create a “Citizens Law Enforcement Advisory Committee,” a seven-person body that would act as a liaison between residents and the bureau, as well as help promote effective communication, make policy recommendations and gather information, among other responsibilities.

Two weeks ago, council members held a silent vigil and a press conference in front of city hall, vowing then to make changes in police policy. At that event, council member Ausha Green, chair of the public safety committee, said that council may consider forming a citizen’s police advisory board.

Council briefly considered creating such a body several years ago, but never acted on the proposal.

In its currently proposed form, the citizen’s committee would consist of seven volunteer members, each residing in different policing districts. City Council would appoint four members and the mayor would appoint three, all subject to approval by the full council.

According to the proposal, the board’s core functions would be:

  • Fostering a better understanding of the role of law enforcement and reviewing policies, practices and data.
  • Providing residents with a forum to voice concerns about police interactions and responses and to facilitate change in law enforcement practices.
  • Promoting policies and practices for the protection of the community to ensure “fair, just and dignified treatment.”
  • Providing recommendations to the police bureau, the mayor and city council.
  • Foster positive relationships and understanding between residents and the police.

The ordinance was not discussed in detail at the meeting, but was placed into council’s public safety committee for deliberation at the June 30 work session.

Click here to read the full text of the proposed ordinance.

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