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Akron voters weigh in on Issue 10, creating a permanent police oversight board

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Posted at 11:11 PM, Nov 07, 2022

AKRON, Ohio — In Akron, people have been pounding the pavement for the past few weeks leading up to Tuesday in hopes of swaying voters one way to the other on Issue 10.

“We're going to be standing at the polls tomorrow greeting folk as they arrive and just letting them know information on any questions and encourage them to vote yes on Issue 10,” said Nannette Pitt, an Akron reverend.

Issue 10 is a charter amendment that would create a permanent police oversight board in the city.

Issue 10 was created after outrage over the deadly police shooting of Jayland Walker this summer. Community members gathered thousands of signatures needed to get it on the ballot.

But there’s a bit of confusion in Akron since Akron City Council passed an ordinance to create a civilian oversight review board in September.

Akron Councilman Jeff Fusco said the ordinance was a way for the city to get it right and work out potential problems with the civilian oversight board before it becomes a charter, stating an ordinance is easier to change than a charter.

“The ordinance basically was going in and living and learning the experience, first, because there was a commitment in that ordinance to bring it on the ballot in 2023,” he said.

But supporters of Issue 10 feel like it will give more power to the people and will create more transparency and communication between police and civilians.

If Issue 10 passes, it would supersede the current oversight board and be a permanent part of the city charter.

“The charter amendment Issue 10 is a permanent initiative. What the city is doing is dependent upon the mayor, it is dependent on who is in city council and we are ready for change,” said Judi Hill, The Akron NAACP President.

Pastor R. Stacey Jenkins, with the House of Prayer for All People Church, echoed Hill’s sentiment.

“If a new mayor or administration came in, they couldn't just do away with this. It'll be ingrained in our city, and that's important. it gives more power, I don't know if power is the right word, but to the community, this is a community review board,” he said. “ I think passing of Issue 10 is the beginning or would be a beginning, to build trust between our police department and our community.”

However, Fusco, and others against Issue 10, believe the wording of the charter is setting the city of Akron up for lawsuits, conflicting with the city’s contract with Akron FOP.

“‘Investigating, securing file data on personnel’ and so and so forth,” he said. “It’s within the language of the contents of the actual charter change itself, that is not on the ballot. The contract with the FOP supersedes the charter, so that would take precedent over the charter.”

Hill said the language in the charter is well-written and well-thought-out.

“Despite the disinformation that is circulating, and we believe that it's a positive change that seeks to partner between police and community and promote healthy policing and public safety in Akron,” she said.

News 5 asked Mayor Dan Horrigan’s office what would happen to the current ordinance and work to get a Citizen Oversight Board if Issue 10 passes. A spokesperson said this:

"Akron City Council passed the Citizen Oversight Board in September of this year. We have already completed an open application period and are currently reviewing those applications. In the event that Issue 10 passes, our Law Department would have to carefully review and determine next steps from there."

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