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'It's very tense' — City of Akron reopens applications for Citizens' Police Oversight Committee

Nine applicants will be selected to help improve community-police relations following the death of Jayland Walker.
Akron Police Department
Posted at 5:27 PM, Jan 06, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-06 19:18:41-05

AKRON, Ohio — The City of Akron has reopened its Police Oversight Committee applications. Voters passed Issue 10 with 62% of the vote back in November. Issue 10 was created after outrage over the deadly police shooting of Jayland Walker this summer.

It’s been over six months since the deadly police shooting of 25-year-old Walker.

“It hit our city very hard because this is personal,” said Pastor Deante Lavender with The Remedy Church.

Lavender is pleased to see police reform efforts moving forward.

“The citizen review board’s goal is to gain access,” Lavender said. “So that there are community members and not just police entities who are privy to certain information when it comes to investigations in our city.”

Issue 10, which passed on November’s ballot, created the "Citizens’ Police Oversight Board." It trumped the Citizens’ Oversight Board Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan created in September 2022 following Walker’s death.

“It's been a little bit of a messy process,” said Akron City Councilman Shammas Malik.

The city said the 60 applications received in September will not be tossed out.

“I wish they wouldn't have opened the applications until we knew what happened, but they did,” said Malik. “Those applications will be considered just like any other one.”

Applications can be found at Akron City Hall or online. The city is looking for diverse candidates.

Click here to download and fill out a PDF of the application.

“Someone who's between 19 to 35, any attorney that’s experienced in civil rights, someone with a background in law enforcement, because it’s important that that voice be represented,” Malik said.

Though Lavender is optimistic for change and improved police-community relations, he has some hesitations.

“I just simply don’t want my voice to be overshadowed by anything in this season,” Lavender said.

He said he won’t be applying.

“Right now, it’s very tense," said Lavender. "But prayerfully in these next coming months and years, we will be able to salvage some sort of a relationship that used to be there in the past."

The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation has not yet released its findings in the Walker case, but for now, reform in his name continues.

“I think this is a tremendous opportunity,” said Malik. “These people can help be a bridge in the community, in a difficult time.”

News 5 reached out to Akron Police and the Walker family for comments; we're waiting to hear back.

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