Boulder City Council will take a vote on removing Police Oversight Panel member Lisa Sweeney-Miran during the upcoming city council meeting this Thursday, May 4th 2023. Sweeney-Miran has been a vocal supporter of police reform, advocate for the homeless, and a proponent for racial justice.
A Special Counsel was appointed to review several Code of Conduct complaints filed by three community members, over a lawsuit that Sweeney-Miran was involved in regarding the Boulder camping ban. The ban allows Boulder Police to remove homeless people who are camping in the city and cite them for sleeping outside. Sweeney-Miran made social media posts critical of the enforcement of the ban and the way policing is conducted in regards to the homeless. She was also a plaintiff in an ACLU lawsuit against the camping ban. Critics fear that her activism and beliefs will compromise her ability to oversee reports of police misconduct. The special counsel recommended that she resign or be removed from her post.
Sweeny states otherwise. Attorney Dan Williams’s letter to the Boulder City Council outlines the reasons why he believes the vote to remove Sweeney-Miran is illegal. He states in part that “A good-faith difference in judgment is not a Code of Conduct violation.” He goes on to state that “because the special counsel makes no finding that Ms. Sweeney-Miran personally violated the Code of Conduct, the City is not authorized to sanction her…” Read the letter in full here.
Facing opposition is nothing new for Sweeney-Miran. She previously faced pushback during her appointment in regards to many of the same issues she faces today, criticism of policing practices and homelessness advocacy in forms of her lawsuit and social media posts.
Sweeny-Miran told YS in a statement that “it’s clear that Boulder city council has neither the cause nor the authority to remove me. If Council nonetheless votes to remove me it will be a clear example of Council putting personal politics above the law.”
The effectiveness of the Police Oversight Panel has faced scrutiny due to outside groups as well as the Boulder Police Department themselves weighing in on panel candidates. The panel was created in order to give communities more voice in the way that policing is conducted.
YS reached out to Boulder City Council Members, but as of publishing, most were unwilling to comment due to possible litigation. Council Member Friend told YS that “as someone who advocated vociferously as a constituent for the creation of the POP (Police Oversight Panel)… who believes deeply in the value and necessity of the work of the POP – I will be voting based on what I believe best sets up the police oversight panel for success it its mission.”
The NAACP Boulder County has sent out press releases calling for individuals to show up at the City Council and speak on Sweeny Miran’s behalf.
The council meeting can be viewed here on Thursday, May 4th.