Aiken, SC (WJBF) – In the wake of allegations that Aiken Department of Public Safety (ADPS) officers performed an illegal cavity search during a traffic stop, the city is forming a citizen’s review board.
The Aiken City Council made an emergency addition to its agenda last week to create the board. The idea was to create more accountability with Aiken Public Safety. But some say it’s unfortunate that it took this case to create a public safety review board.
A week after dash cam footage of an Aiken Public Safety traffic stop caught national attention, the Aiken City Council decided to act by creating a citizens review board to handle complaints filed against ADPS. Mayor Rick Osbon says, “I think it’s a response from our government to our citizens and I think the expediency and the emergency of it is we certainly want to show our concern and sincerity for this issue.”
An ADPS spokesperson says the department welcomes the idea of a citizens board. “If we have problem officers, we want to identify those problem officers and if we need to retrain them or terminate their employment we want to know about those things as well,” says Lieutenant Karl Odenthal, with ADPS.
Mayor Rick Osbon says the board will “Make findings and the way we’ll see it is they will come back to not just ADPS, and also through the City Manager’s office to have recommendations in their findings.” As for why a review board wasn’t created earlier. Mayor Osbon says the city council was kept out of the loop for 18 months. “All correspondence at that point are pretty much going to the insurance company or to that attorney as opposed to coming up to the city manager. So we just didn’t know, nobody told council at the time.”
Brandon Upson, a Aiken Citizens Review Board Member says, “Government doesn’t work from the top down, point blank.” Upson says the board will play a key part in conflicts like this one going forward. “This review board helps empower the community to have a voice and also have a say in what goes on in the community especially when there is a conflict between citizens and police officers,” says Upson.
The Citizens Review Board is still in its early stages and it’s yet to be determined whether the group will wield termination or subpoena powers.
The full list of Citizens Review Board members is below:
- Geoffrey Alls
- Catina Broadwater
- Paul Bush
- Ann Dicks
- Jody Duggan
- Bonnie Fulghum
- James Gallman
- Phillip Howell
- Carmine Landy
- John Lindsey
- Clark McCant
- Bill Paschal
- Theresa Swafford
- Brandon Upson
- Grant Wiseman