Two recent incidents raising questions of police conduct should be investigated by law enforcement agencies, but city lawmakers have no immediate plan to conduct their own inquiry, Common Council members said Monday.
“I think the police oversight is already in position with Internal Affairs and the FBI getting involved,” said Council President Darius G. Pridgen.
Pridgen said he did not think the Council’s dormant Police Oversight Committee “would be the vehicle for the present crisis we have on our hands.”
Pridgen’s colleagues also expressed a preference not to interfere with ongoing investigations. Whatever the outcomes of the investigations, the actions of a few officers shouldn’t tarnish an entire department, they said.
“I think the incidents have been few and far between,” said South Council Member Christopher P. Scanlon. “I don’t know if we need oversight. I don’t think so.”
The assault on an Air National Guard member in a University Heights bar on May 11 and an attack by a police officer on a man already in handcuffs caught on videotape April 19 in Riverside have both been referred to the department’s Internal Affairs Division and the FBI.
The attack just more than a week ago in Molly’s Pub was believed to be witnessed by two off-duty officers, both of whom were placed on paid administrative leave. Handcuffs belonging to one of the officers were placed on the victim while he was unconscious.
The Council’s Police Oversight Committee was active at one time, but it has not met in several years, and there are no plans to hold a meeting.
“I don’t think it’s good to inflame tensions at this point. I’d rather see justice be served,” said North Council Member Joseph Golombek, who is chairman of the committee.
Pridgen said he would like to know what kind of power the committee had,but said that with ongoing investigations it is unlikely that these incidents will be aired in a public Council meeting. Lawmakers are drafting a resolution asking the Police Department’s leadership to keep lawmakers informed about the incidents.
Pridgen said the Council would consider new training requirements or reforms once the law enforcement investigations are completed.
Majority Leader Demone A. Smith said the recent incidents are “nothing new.” “It’s unfortunate you have a couple bad apples,” Smith said.
The Citizens Rights and Community Relations Office is open to anyone who thinks they have been mistreated, he said.
Smith and other lawmakers said they have confidence in the FBI and the Internal Affairs Division to conduct full and fair investigations.
Delaware Council Member Michael J. LoCurto and Fillmore Council Member David A. Franczyk, meanwhile, suggested the Council look into off-duty employment of police officers. The off-duty officers involved in the Molly’s incident had worked security outside the bar earlier in the night.
“The more eyes on city business, the better,” Franczyk said.