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The Role Of Citizen Review Boards In Shaping Police Reform


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Orlando Police officers in riot gear stand guard outside the OPD headquarters, May 31st, 2020. Photo: Matthew Peddie, WMFE

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Citizens Police Review Boards are in the headlines as cities grapple with the issue of police reform following the wave of nationwide protests over police brutality and racial injustice. Caila Coleman, an attorney and Vice Chair of Orlando’s Citizens Police Review Board joins the program to explain the role of the board and how it could help shape reform.

“I am a citizen first who happens to be an attorney,” said Coleman.

“So it just gives me a little bit more insight that I am an attorney and I know what our rights are just as citizens, period, in the state of Florida, but to my understanding, there’s no one else who’s an attorney on the board right now.”

Caila Coleman. Zoom screenshot.

Coleman said she joined the review board after moving to Orlando at the end of 2015, as a way to give back to the community.

“As a former public defender, I know that police officers do not get it right 100% of the time. I wanted to make sure that I was able to utilize my knowledge to help citizens who might not understand, you know, police officers getting it wrong or might not understand their rights. And this was the best way that I felt I could serve this community.”

Coleman said she’s pleased to have helped push for the use of body cameras by Orlando police, but there are still changes she wants to see, both with the police department and the role of the review board.

“I would like to have more hands on approach to what cases we review, if not all of them. I feel like anybody who makes a complaint, they should give their due process. They should be able to come before us, and for us to review it and make sure that the police officers are behaving appropriately.”

Coleman also wants to see the police work to de-escalate situations before using force.

“On the three cases that came before us [on Wednesday], pretty much the majority of the board members felt as if those situations could have been de-escalated.”

 


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Matthew Peddie

About Matthew Peddie

Host of WMFE's Intersection & Assistant News Director

A recent transplant to the Sunshine State, Matthew Peddie grew up in New Zealand and studied journalism at the University of Western Ontario. After graduating with an MA in Journalism he returned to Christchurch, working as a reporter for Radio Live and Radio New Zealand. He’s reported live from the scene of ... Read Full Bio »

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