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Attorney Darren O’Connor addresses the Boulder City Council regarding the Police Oversight Panel Appointments

Attorney Darren O’Connor addresses the Boulder City Council regarding the Police Oversight Panel Appointments


Community Corner is local contributions from residents and experts in their fields.

See Yellow Scene Magazine’s story released 1/29/2023: Boulder City Council to Vote on Police Oversight Committee Replacement, with Pro-Police Advocacy Groups Playing a Large Role

Police Oversight Panel City Leadership Interference

Jan. 17, 2023

Dear Boulder City Council Members,

Your vote to approve the potential Police Oversight Panel members recommended from the Selection Panel is just a couple days away. As I wrote recently, the Selection Panel’s deliberations, per BRC § 2-11-6(a)(5), are confidential. The law you passed be damned, you instructed the Selection Panel to review all the recommended panelists and to assure that proper code criteria was applied, in order to determine if the recommended panelists met the criterion. And this was to be done with guidance from the City Attorney’s Office. The Selection Panel, you instructed, were to provide you with explanations or certifications explaining the steps that were taken, in writing.

Explanations of the steps that the Selection Panel took, provided to you in writing, was a demand for them to share their confidential deliberations. Full stop.

Further, the Selection Panel was sent a plethora of communications challenging Lisa Sweeney-Miran. The emails came from people that NAACP Boulder County Branch Vice President and Selection Panel Member Jude landsman, quoted in the Daily Camera on Sunday, opined on as follows: “I thought it was very shortsighted to send (the public comments) out to the selection committee when the comments were also against oversight [of the Boulder Police Department] in general.”

Talk about bias—you know, the thing that Council Members were ostensibly, and unlawfully, attempting to ensure was appropriately screened from the applicants put forward by the Selection Panel. There is a bias here, and it is in giving an oversized voice to people so virulently pro-police as to be against any oversight at all. Providing such pro cop propaganda—or copaganda—to the Selection Panel as part of this pugnacious endeavor and calling it, as Council Member Benjamin did, “due diligence,” is anything but.

How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?  You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

As this process returns to Council on Thursday, we are warned further delay on a vote will impede the Police Oversight Panel, as shared in Boulder Beat News: “‘We will lose quorum if we do not have those new panelists seated,’ [Police Oversight Panel Co-Chair Daniel] Leonard said.”

While I expect the interference will end in this process because you will likely call a vote this week, the interference by city staff continues. In the same Boulder Beat News article, Chief Herold is quoted, stating, “The panel’s role is not to look at policing in a systemic way, . . . . The panel’s role is to look at specific facts and circumstances and then recommend corrective action or discipline; that is it.”

Like Council and city staff who ignored that part in the ordinance that states “[s]election panel deliberations shall be confidential,” Chief Herold seems to have skimmed over or simply ignored the ordinance. In the Powers and Duties section of the code, B.R.C. § 2-11-7(e) states:

The police oversight panel shall have access to the Boulder Police Department’s policies and any data captured or maintained by the department to facilitate the panel’s analysis and understanding of department operations. The panel may direct the monitor to conduct specific analyses of department data, policies, or practices.

Thus, the Police Oversight Panel has access to BPD data and may direct the Police Monitor to analyze it. If that isn’t “look[ing] at policing in a systemic way,” someone please explain to me what is. And if it is (hint, it is), someone needs to inform Chief Herold. Because the ordinance is silent regarding what to do with the analysis once done, should we understand that to mean the analysis should be hidden from the public and not used to improve the policies and practices of the Boulder Police Department?

In keeping with such understanding, I will take your silence in not responding as agreement with Chief Herold, and as an affirmation that such efforts and analysis at the direction of Police Oversight Panel Members should never see the light of day. They should not help us avoid another Officer Smyly type interaction that motivated the creation of the Police Oversight Panel by “look[ing] at policing in a systemic way.” And they certainly should just let Chief Herold and the City Attorney inform them of their powers and duties, rather than refer to the ordinance itself, lest they get too uppity and actually effect some true reforms.

Darren O’Connor, Esq.
NAACP Boulder County Branch Criminal Justice Committee Chair



Police Oversight Panel Selection Committee Deliberations are Confidential

Jan. 18, 2023

Dear Boulder Council Members, City Manager Rivera-Vandermyde, Police Oversight Panel Members, and members of the press,

Last week, Council, according to the Daily Camera, demanded that the POP Selection Committee provide “written explanations of the steps it took when choosing new members before the item is brought back before the council in January.”

Perhaps Council was unaware of the ordinance’s proscription against such a demand. B.R.C.

  • 2-11-6(5) states that “Selection panel deliberations shall be confidential.” The steps taken in choosing the slate of POP members certainly counts as the selection panel’s “deliberations.”

Apparently, while Council members searched for something in the ordinance that could be used against one of the proposed new panel members, they ignored this legal requirement that the selection panel’s work be confidential. This was wrong, and the demand of the selection panel to disclose those confidential deliberations is thus illegal. Though a summary of the selection panel’s reason for selecting each applicant is also part of the ordinance, one assumes, under the leadership of Aimee Kane and the interim police monitor, this much was done. Demands that intrude into the private communications of the selection panel are not fair game to interrogate the selection panel.

I therefore write to demand that Council’s demand be withdrawn, and that the selection panel’s recommended slate be voted on by Council, pursuant to B.R.C. § 2-11-6(15):

A motion to approve the proposed candidates shall be placed on the council’s consent agenda. council members may choose to exercise the call-up option to discuss a proposed candidate’s appointment. Council will approve or reject the appointments by majority vote.

Council should have had only the discretion to discuss any particular candidate’s appointment and then voted. Instead Council chose to make a demand not within its authority due to the prohibition of what it demanded, as discussed above.

Move this to a vote, and let the people do their work of community oversight of policing. It’s the right, and legally required, thing to do.

Darren O’Connor, Esq.
NAACP Boulder County Branch Criminal Justice Committee Chair

1 comment

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    So happy that Darren didn’t get his way! Looks like the moderate libs are doing the same as the pretend progressives now: just sue the other side. In this case, however, it’s justified. BTW, Yellow Scene, Safer Boulder was NOT contacted as you incorrectly stated.

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