New police chief advisory board aims to strengthen community relations

By Tori Johnsson

The Lexington Police Department is looking for local residents to serve on a new police chief’s advisory board.

Volunteers’ responsibilities could include advising the chief on community issues like public awareness, police-community relations, racial equity and department transparency.

“It is vital to have honest two-way communication on how the police department can increase their trust and transparency with our citizens,” Lexington Police Chief Angela Greene said in an email.

Lexington’s Mayor Frank Friedman believes the advisory board’s creation wasn’t in response to particular problems.

“Well, there’s always some type of friction, it just depends on the temperature of that friction,” Friedman says. “And most of ours are pretty benign.”

Some residents could be unfamiliar with the police department because of significant turnover in the police department in recent years. Friedman says past police chiefs did a good job of understanding and responding to community desires without a formal advisory process, but the board could reassure some citizens that their voices are being heard.

“These days when authorities are questioned, when law enforcement is a big question all over the country, it’s maybe just another further assurance that here in Lexington, law enforcement listens, we’re available, we serve the community,” said City Manager Jim Halasz.

The five to seven residents joining the board would make a time commitment of four meetings a year over a two-year term. Members would get quarterly access to summaries of police department statistics showing crime rates, citizen complaints, numbers of police pursuits and use of force.

The police department seeks volunteers representing a range of opinions, such as business owners, college students, school and clergy leaders. “We are looking for a diverse group of individuals from various racial and social economic backgrounds,” Greene said.

“That’s one of the things I remind people with mayors, police officers, others – you don’t have to be in trouble to speak to us,” Friedman says.

Applications for the board are due on December 29th.