The City of Madison may soon join Huntsville in creating an independent body to formally offer advice and help improve relationships between the police department and the rest of the community.
On Monday, February 22, the Madison City Council will vote on Ordinance No. 2021-32, which would establish the Madison Police Citizens Advisory Committee (MPCAC).
Issues with the advisory purview of the committee:
- Police services, both crime related and non-crime related
- Training in areas including diversity, employment training (both civilian and sworn personnel), procedural justice, community policing and crisis intervention training
- Agency objectives, problems and successes
- Development of agency programs and policies
- Actions, philosophies, behaviors and practices that contribute to community tensions, grievances and complaints
The nine-member group would be comprised of individuals nominated by each of the mayor, the chief of police and each city council member.
The role of the committee would be to not only help the police better understand "the nature and causes of complex community problems," but it would also "recommend procedures, programs, or policies to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the police department and to enhance cooperation among citizens of the community and the police," according to the ordinance.
It would also "keep the Chief of Police, Mayor, and the City Council apprised of actions taken by the department which create community concern or controversy."
The committee is also tasked with aiding the police "in identifying trouble areas requiring special police or other governmental actions."
Those wanting to serve on the committee have to live within the City of Madison and cannot be a city employee, an elected official or the family member of either group.
Participation is unpaid and each appointee serves a four-year term. However, in order to not turn over the entire committee every four years, the initial council will be divided into two groups. The first group will serve for two years and the second will serve for four years.
The committee will meet at least once per quarter and must be held in a public forum and announced in advance. "However, closed meetings may be conducted as permitted under the Alabama Open Meetings Act."
There are limitations of the committee though. Requests for any information or data desired by the committee from Madison Police "will be forwarded to the Chief of Police and the City Attorney."
The ordinance does not state if the committee has the right to all information requested. The committee also does not have the ability to obligate the City of Madison, either financially or legally. "The MPCAC may submit requests for purchases of supplies or appropriations necessary to meet its goals by requesting funding from the Madison City Council."
The city council meets on Monday at 6 p.m.