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Morgantown council approves court-ordered changes to police oversight board

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Morgantown’s Civilian Police Review and Advisory Board is making some court-ordered changes to how it conducts business.

Morgantown City Council unanimously approved several changes in a Tuesday vote to a 2020 ordinance creating the panel. The changes, are focused on the board’s ability to hold investigations on complaints made against officers and the definition of “misconduct” in the text of the law.

City Attorney Ryan Simonton

“It’s intended to make sure that the ordinance, on the city’s books, looks like the ordinance as agreed to in the settlement and as ordered by the court,” city attorney Ryan Simonton said.

The ordinance is in response to a court order that came late last year following a legal challenge filed by the Monongalia-Preston Fraternal Order of Police. Monongalia County Circuit Court Judge Susan Tucker ruled the city’s Police Civil Service Commission is already established to perform the same function as the review board.

While the review and advisory board remains intact, it will remain as a strictly policy discussion-based board with no disciplinary or investigatory powers.

“It was an issue that has been resolved, with court action, action on your part and action on the interest groups that are involved,” said State Senate Candidate Mike Oliverio as part of the public portion of the meeting. “And I think it’s positive that a resolution has come to pass with this.”

Despite the court ordered settlement, local organizations such as the NAACP pointed out their concerns about the board’s ability to properly discuss concerns over law enforcement.

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