MADISON, Ala. – The City of Madison could be getting a police citizens advisory committee in 2021. Madison City Council read the ordinance proposal for the first time at Monday’s council meeting.
The Madison Police Department hopes the committee will bring more transparency and open communication between the police and the public.
“That we have police-community interaction, that we have collaboration, that we have partnerships, and that we increase transparency,” explained Madison Police Major John Stringer.
However, some Madison residents are skeptical.
“I want to say it looks very similar in wording to Huntsville’s ordinance. I’ve heard some say it does not really accomplish much and is kind of a smokescreen to look like there is transparency,” said Jocelyn Broer.
Broer also expressed concerns saying the committee needs to be diverse.
“It is essential to look to the success of this committee in my opinion that people are not just chosen that look like you and think like you,” says Broer.
Major Stringer says the city and police department want an objective committee not leaning for or against police and that citizen participation in the application process will be key to finding that.
“That can give us objective informed views of our citizens, of what’s going on in the community that might help us to see the things we might be missing as a police department,” Stringer added.
The proposed makeup is a nine-member committee serving in four-year terms with one individual from each council district nominated by their council member, one person nominated by the mayor, and one by the police chief.
“On the ninth position, the chief’s position, we simply would not fill that until the chief was filled, at which point the chief would have the ability to appoint their own person,” explained Stringer.
The application process to find committee members could be open as early as March, if approved by the City Council. This issue is only in the first reading and has not gone for a vote before the City Council.