Police brutality claims stem oversight committee proposal

Published: Jul. 15, 2015 at 10:20 PM CDT
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Amarillo,  TX - After concerns of police brutality, a local group is calling for a committee to oversee the Amarillo Police Department among other officials.

The public oversight committee's  purpose is to keep APD in check, making all internal affairs transparent to the public.

Last weeks police brutality meeting, hosted by local attorney, Jeff Blackburn, exposed what Blackburn said were apparent police abuse cases on minority and poverty stricken citizens.

Nearly 300 concerned citizens attended this meeting to voice their concern with APD, which Blackburn said showed the legitimacy of police brutality claims. Now, Amarillo Citizens for Open Government are calling to order a civilian oversight committee to hold Amarillo police along with other officials accountable.

"Potter County and City attorney's office need an oversight of the expenditures that's been going on," Rev. Herman Moore, a steering member for the committee, said. "And our justice system.... needs to be reviewed. And that's what this committee is just asking for and that the citizens can have a dialogue with the police force."

Moore said this committee will create a checks and balances system within the APD, discontinuing the lack of transparency.

All city officials, including Randall and Potter County received letters of the oversight committee's mission. In this letter, a proposal to audit the police force is mentioned in hopes to reveal problems within the criminal justice system.

However, Randall County District Attorney, James Farren, said the checks and balance proposal already exists.

"That system's already in place and it's been working fairly well for the past 200 years or so," Farren said. "And so I just have reservations about some citizens committee that's suddenly going to bring wisdom and guidance to us that's better than the system that's been working very well for the last 200 years."

Farren adds the committee is stirring the pot against minimal police brutality cases. In his 21 years as the DA, he has only prosecuted four officers.

He said the only question he has left is who will oversee the oversight committee. which he believes to be one sided.

The proposed civilian oversight committee has been implemented in 150 cities across the nation, and is reported to have positive outcomes.