AKRON, Ohio — The Akron City Council is hoping it will be able to come to a consensus on members of the Citizen’s Police Oversight Board next week after failing to do so this week.
Back in November, voters passed Issue 10 following the outrage over the deadly shooting of Jayland Walker. Now, the mayor and city council are tasked with appointing nine members to the board.
The deadline for that vote was Monday night, but in five hours, the council voted six times and were not successful. They needed nine votes to adopt the list of six candidates. Eight members said yes, but four wouldn’t budge. Without the consensus, it pushes back the creation of the board which council president Margo Somerville and fellow councilmember Tara Mosley agree is needed.
“We have a great police force, right, but we want to make sure that we are holding our police officers accountable,” Sommerville said.
“It's about transparency. This is not about saying that police officers are bad,” said Mosley.
Akron City Council has been working for weeks, looking at applications and hand picking who would best fit, but there was a divide over one specific applicant: Imokhai Okolo.
“Very early on, we fought to get Imokhai on the slate,” said Sommerville.
Not everyone agreed. Opposing members raised concerns about past social media comments.
“They thought that he could not be objective, they thought that his comments on social media were inappropriate,” said Sommerville.
Monday, council members weren’t surprised at midnight when they still hadn't come to a consensus.
“The history around our horseshoe — there's always a racial divide when things become heightened around race, and this again just showed the community who we are as a people and as a council, and it's unfortunate,” said Mosley.
Council members that voted yes were still disheartened that they couldn't deliver for the community.
“It's so unfortunate, because here we are—on a cusp of the decision for Jayland Walker getting ready to come out,” said Mosley.
“We know that we're not in compliance,” Sommerville continued. “It was really important that we made sure we found the right people and so for us, if it takes us a little bit longer, it's worth it right. We want to get it right.”
The council is looking at applications now for another candidate for the panel with the hopes next Monday they can officially come to a consensus.
The charter does not give specific writing on consequences if in contempt. The council also decided to hold off on approving the mayor’s list of three nominees to compete the nine member panel. News 5 reached out the candidates who voted “no” last night and they did not respond.
Mayor Dan Horrigan released a statement Tuesday afternoon regarding the meeting, stating it’s clear the issues with the charter, that no system is perfect, but after seeing the number of applicants he believes the council will be able to make a decision soon.
Full statement below:
“The creation of the Citizens' Police Oversight Board is integral to moving our City forward and following through on what residents expect from us, what they deserve, and ultimately what is our legal obligation. No system is perfect, and I think we are seeing some of the flaws that exist in the version of the Board which was created by the charter amendment. I am confident based on the number of qualified and capable candidates who applied, that City Council will be able to fulfill their roles, come to a consensus and seat a Board very soon so the Board can get to the important work ahead of them.”
RELATED: Akron City Council divided about candidate's nomination to Citizens' Police Oversight Board
You can watch more about the oversight board and nominations in the player below:
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