LIMA — Lima City Council took its first step toward crafting legislation governing investigations into alleged abuses by the Lima Police Department when the city’s safety services committee — comprised of Councilors Derry Glenn, Jamie Dixon and Sam McLean — passed a motion Monday night asking Law Director Tony Geiger to research what steps other cities are taking in similar regards.
The motion came after a more than two hour meeting featuring complaints by Lima residents about what they’ve deemed as an abuse of power by Lima police officers and a roughly 40-minute speech by former Fort Wayne Police Officer Diane Rogers — invited by Glenn — that pushed for healing the perceived rift between officers and the larger community.
“It doesn’t start with me. I’m not telling you what to do, but you need to do something,” Rogers said.
A number of police officers attended the committee meeting, which is uncommon. For the most part, besides a few clarifications by Police Chief Kevin Martin about a police report that had been held until it could be corrected, officers were quiet as they listened to the allegations laid out by both black and white residents of the community.
McLean had asked for those clarifications after failing to receive the report in a timely manner.
“What it gives me is a tone of untruthfulness, and I don’t know if it is or not,” McLean said.“If we just be open and straight up, it would make our whole community a lot different. And that’s all I’m asking.”
After public comment, Glenn originally made a motion to ask Geiger to prepare legislation for the following Monday’s council meeting, but after further discussion, the motion became more open ended to give Geiger and the committee more time in deciding exactly what form an independent investigatory body may take for the city. Council members were hesitant about creating another form of a community review board, which has been tried in the past and has failed.
Martin said the community’s issue with the use of excessive force by police “weighs on my mind. I care about this community.”
But when it comes to determining whether an officer’s actions are outside of police standards, Martin said it’s a “balancing act.” But he said that decision is always based on case law and not political concerns.
“If you jump to a political decision instead of relying on the law, the officer is not benefited and the community as a whole suffers,” he said. “I have to make decisions based on policy and practices we have in place now.”
Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.