In June, Akron police officers fired over 60 bullets killing Jayland Walker, sparking protests against police brutality. On Tuesday, over 60 percent of Akron voters pushed forward a police reform initiative granting civilian oversight of the department, per the Akron Beacon Journal.
Issue 10 or ‘Jayland’s Law’ calls for the City Council and mayor to implement a Civilian’s Police Oversight Board and codify the police auditor position, the report says. Basically, investigating police activity would become a full-time job, allowing permanent access to records and the ability to subpoena witnesses. Mayor Dan Horrigan said 60 people have already volunteered to be a part of the board. However, the council could be expecting even more since local activists gathered up to 7,000 signatures from Issue 10 supporters following the investigation into Walker’s death.
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“With this historic win for community safety, Akron is standing up for police accountability, and this is only the beginning,” Esther Ngemba, a spokeswoman for Freedom BLOC, said in a statement Tuesday night celebrating the vote. “You will continue to see us on the doors in every ward to find great candidates for the civilian oversight board. We will seek individuals to build a team of strong, diverse community leaders who will work with the administration to ensure we write the best legislation to ensure safety in our community.
Voters in the minority objected to any additional scrutiny of the police or said the civilian review board the mayor is implementing, along with the current police auditor, is enough. But residents who view the shooting of Walker on June 27 as the latest in a series of unchecked police actions said it’s time for more oversight.”
Critics say the proposal may be a conflict if it interferes with the police union contract or the right of officers who use force to remain silent, the report says. The Council has until the end of July to institute the new board.
Walker’s family was overjoyed and humbled at the news of Akron voters coming behind them in support of passing Issue 10, per their attorney, Bobby DiCello.
“Since the 1960s, Akron residents have asked their city leaders for citizen oversight of their police department. Until last night, those requests had been denied,” DiCello said in a statement. “Jayland’s family is proud to belong to the Akron community, a place where Americans used the democratic process to enact meaningful reform in honor of Jayland’s life and others who have lost their lives to police violence.”