[Adopted 6-17-1991 STM, Art. 7]
The purpose of this bylaw is three-fold:
To provide a vehicle by which any person may have any complaints or concerns regarding law enforcement in Barre promptly reviewed by an impartial and fair investigating body.
To protect the Police Department from unwarranted and unjustified accusations concerning law enforcement practices.
To minimize the possibility of law suits being brought against the Town of Barre concerning law enforcement procedures.
To accomplish these objectives there is established a Civilian Law Enforcement Review and Advisory Board (hereinafter referred to as The Board).
The Board of Selectmen shall appoint three regular members and two alternate members from the Town of Barre. Both regular and alternate members are to serve staggered terms. Alternate members may sit on the Board in case of absence, inability to act, or conflict of interest on the part of any regular member or in the event of an unfilled vacancy on the Board. Both regular and alternate members shall serve in a voluntary unpaid capacity.
Prior to appointing any person to the Board, the Board of Selectmen shall advertise in a local newspaper for individual candidates who are residents of Barre who desire appointment to the Board. The Selectmen shall make every effort to ensure that persons appointed are qualified to serve on the Board.
The terms of members of the Board shall be three years. Members of the Board may be removed only for just cause by written charges after a public hearing.
Members of the Board may not hold any other office in the Town of Barre for which he or she is paid by the Town of Barre. No member of the Police Department or any former member of the Police Department who have served on the Police Department for the five preceding years may serve on the Board.
The Board shall elect a Chairman annually. The Board shall meet at the call of the Chairman but shall meet at least once every six months. The Board may elect a member to serve as Clerk. Meetings of the Board shall be opened to the public except when the Board meets in executive session in private as regulated by Massachusetts General Laws. All meetings of the Board shall be conducted in accordance with the Open Meeting Law of Massachusetts.
[Amended 2-6-2012 STM, Art. 7]
Editor's Note: See MGL c. 39, § 23B.
The Board shall submit a proposed annual budget to cover anticipated expenses.
Members of the Board shall receive no compensation for their services but shall receive reasonable expenses incurred as a result of their duties as members of the Board.
The Board shall receive, investigate, and resolve any complaint concerning the operation of the Police Department.
The Board with the assistance of Town Counsel shall have the power to subpoena witnesses, administer oaths, take testimony and require the production of records and evidence.
The Board is empowered to hire clerical help when needed.
After a thorough review of each complaint received, the Board will make a written report detailing its handling and resolution of the problem as the facts and circumstances may require, and send the report to both the Board of Selectmen and to the Chief of Police.
A complaint by a member of the public or a complaint by a police officer may be filed with the Board. Copies of the complaint shall be made available immediately to each member of the Board, and at the Chairman's discretion, a copy may be sent to the Board of Selectmen and to the Chief of Police.
When a copy is sent to the Chief of Police, he shall promptly investigate the complaint and file a report of findings with the Board within 15 days. Complaints filed with the Board shall be promptly investigated. If the evidence does not exist to warrant a full investigation by the Board, it may be summarily dismissed. The Board shall maintain a docket of complaints and the disposition of each complaint, and this shall become a part of the permanent record. The Board shall submit a report to be included in the annual Town report. The Board shall issue a written response to all complaints, and it shall deliver a copy of its response and/or findings to all parties.
If a complaint is not resolved as a result of an initial investigation and preliminary consultation with the Chief of Police as appropriate, the full Board may convene to review and investigate the matter. The Board shall within 30 days recommend to the Chief of Police and/or to the Board of Selectmen any discipline that it deems appropriate to impose. The recommendations of the Board are advisory. Any report of findings involving a civilian complaint shall be made a matter of public record. In the event the complaint is against the Police Department or any employee of the Police Department, the person(s) shall be presumed innocent and shall not forfeit any pay or seniority rights pending final action by the Board. All pleadings filed and all hearings before the Board shall be public. Each party has a right to counsel. The complainant's case may be presented by the complainant or by the complainant's counsel. Any probative evidence may be admitted.
Special meetings may be called by the Chairman or by any two members of the Board upon personal notice being given to all members of the Board or written notice being mailed to each member and received at least 48 hours prior to such meeting unless notice is waived by said members. In the absence of an emergency any special meeting shall be posted in the office of the Town Clerk at least 48 hours in advance of such meeting.
On the written petition by 10 or more residents of the Town of Barre filed with the Board, the Board shall hold a special hearing for the purpose of responding to said petition. Copies of the petition shall be delivered to the Board of Selectmen. Notice of said hearing shall be given in the same manner as provided for other hearings of the Board. The Board shall conduct said hearing upon the subject matter within 30 days of the filing of said petition with the Board.