Silverthorne plans for use-of-force review board
SILVERTHORNE — In response to the national conversation around policing, the town of Silverthorne has opted to create a use-of-force review board for incidents involving serious injury or death.
On Aug. 12, the Silverthorne Town Council discussed how members of the review board would be appointed and determined that two members of the Silverthorne Police Department Citizens Advisory Committee — which has been formally recognized by the town since 1999 — should serve on the board.
The Citizens Advisory Committee recommended the members be appointed by Town Council. The committee also recommended that while two Town Council members serve on the advisory committee, they should not serve on the review board. Chief John Minor agreed that council members should not serve on the review board because council makes decisions regarding litigation in a use-of-force case and council already has the ability to fire the police chief by a majority vote.
“It’s best to keep these council members probably removed from the use-of-force review board because we could get into some personnel actions,” Minor said.
Council member Kevin McDonald questioned why a council member shouldn’t serve on the review board, saying it would be consistent with council’s responsibilities. Council member Derrick Fowler responded that excluding council members from the review board avoids the real or perceived bias of a council member.
“The further removed Town Council is from this, I think the better,” Fowler said.
Minor explained the board would determine whether the officer’s actions were in line with proper policies and procedures.
Minor pointed out that some advisory committee members don’t have much background on relevant case law for use of force, which is why those who might serve on the board should begin education on the topic.
Council decided to move forward with the idea by training advisory committee members on legal matters surrounding police use of force. All members of the committee would be educated on use-of-force laws, and two non-council committee members would be appointed to the review board when it is needed.
Fowler asked whether Minor was comfortable with the language in Policy 301 in the Silverthorne Police Department policy manual, which provides instruction on forming a use-of-force review board.
“I am comfortable with this,” Minor said. “And yes, we probably need more citizen oversight, especially given the tenor of our country today involving use of force, especially use of force that has substantial injury or death.”
Per police department policy, a commanding officer in the involved member’s chain of command, a training officer, one administrative personnel, a peer officer and a sworn peace officer from an outside law enforcement agency would serve on the board along with the two advisory committee members.
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