Dec 4, 2020 | NEWS | By Psalm Delaney | Illustration by Patil Khakhamian

Deborah Walker, the Law Enforcement Accountability Commission’s representative of District 1 and the Executive Director of the nonprofit community equity organization Citizens’ Project, has been eagerly working to promote police transparency in Colorado Springs. Her mission began after the death of De’Von Bailey at the hands of two CSPD officers in the fall of 2019.

On July 16, 2020, Mayor John Suthers approved the Colorado Springs City Council’s ordinance proposition to form the Colorado Springs Law Enforcement Transparency and Accountability Commission.

The Commission’s primary duty is “to advise and recommend areas and topics of study related to police operations, best practices, and resource allocation.” The Commission also “[solicits] public input and [promotes] improved relationships between the citizens and the police department.”

In an interview with Colorado Public Radio, Walker stated that even though the community experienced a police brutality incident 10 months ago, the persistence for a transparency commission was not sparked until the death of George Floyd in late May.

The Colorado Springs community has shown a large amount of support for the Commission’s formation. The final vote on the ordinance was passed by a unanimous 8-0 vote. Moreover, 800 Colorado Springs residents applied to participate as members of the commission.

Out of the 800 applicants, 11 community members were appointed in late September as the first members of the city’s police accountability commission. The members were appointed to “represent a cross-section of the racial, geographic, and economic diversity of the city” and to make “recommendations based on an empirical understanding of police operations and best practices.”

The members of the Commission are excited to serve the community as they strive to promote equity and foster communication between the public and the police department.

Commission alternate Rosita Carmago said that in the past, “[she has] had to have the conversation with [her] children as to what to do if they were ever approached by the police,” but now, “[she] can have the conversation with the police [about] what to do if they ever approach [her] children.”

City Councilor Wayne Williams assured the public that “this is not just a one-meeting process.” He said, “This is a long-term commitment to make our community as great as it can possibly be.”

But while Colorado Springs is making strides to improve community and police relations, there are still ongoing frustrations and concerns among its citizens.

“Those of us who have had our sleeves rolled up and have been in the work for 10 months now, we’re a little confused that the incident [the police killing of De’Von Bailey] that happened in our own community wasn’t the catalyst for change,” Walker said.

David Geislinger, a city council member from District 2, has reassured the community that the city council is committed to change.

“If you see something that you think needs to be addressed, as an individual, as a group, come and challenge us. That’s what we’re here for and don’t be afraid to speak. It’s a check and balance that’s being implemented here,” Geislinger said.

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