To strengthen relationships between the Gwinnett County Police Department and the community, the Board of Commissioners on Tuesday approved the creation of a Citizens Advisory Board to offer input on issues like transparency, use of force, training and dealing with complaints.
The 11-member board, made up of representatives from various groups around the county, will provide advice to the Police Department, the county administrator, and the Board of Commissioners. The Citizens Advisory Board will assist the department using a collaborative problem-solving process that supports both the community and the Police Department's desire to enhance public safety.
The board will offer feedback on reforms to improve community-oriented policing practices, transparency, professionalism, accountability, community inclusion, fairness, effectiveness, and public trust while taking into account national standards, best practices, current and emerging research, and community expectations.
"The Citizens Advisory Board will support the Board of Commissioner's vision of a vibrantly connected community where all stakeholders feel informed, engaged and heard," said Chairwoman Nicole Hendrickson. "Establishing the Citizens Advisory Board will help build an open and positive relationship between the public and law enforcement. It builds mutual understanding and trust."
District 4 Commissioner Marlene Fosque said the Citizens Advisory Board fulfills a promise she made with community leaders to improve connections and engagements with police.
"The board will empower people and help them to be more knowledgeable about law enforcement," Fosque said. "Hopefully it will open some eyes and enlighten our community even more. The dialogue that stems from a citizens advisory board can broaden how people perceive things. Both parties may very well end up saying, 'I never knew that,' or 'I never thought of it that way before.'"
West said Gwinnett police have a good relationship with the community and the department wants to build on that.
"We want to open up direct communication between the police department and the people we serve," West said. "By hearing from a diverse group of people on the board, we can gain insights and better understand dynamics in the community."
The idea of a Citizens Advisory Board came from a Board of Commissioners planning session in July 2020.The board will be made up of appointees from each member of the Board of Commissioners, a Gwinnett 101 Citizens Academy graduate, and a member each from the Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, the Gwinnett Bar Association Criminal Defense Section, the Gwinnett Tech Student Government Association, View Point Health, and Gwinnett cities within the Police Services District. Members will serve staggered two-year terms.