Boulder has added a 13th and final member to its task force charged with examining models for a police oversight board.
The membership of the task force has been subject to controversy, first because the majority of Boulder City Council opposed the membership of Sammie Lawrence and then because council moved to add an additional member without consulting the NAACP Boulder County branch.
NAACP members were among those who called for a police oversight board in the wake of a high-profile incident involving a confrontation between police and a black Naropa University student. Three NAACP members also served on a subcommittee with two council members, Mary Young and Aaron Brockett, to select the original members of the task force.
During the March 1 incident, police confronted the student, Zayd Atkinson, while he picked up trash. During an April 5 incident, police arrested Lawrence, who also is black. An internal police review and an independent review found no evidence of racial profiling in the first incident, but the responding officer resigned after the investigation found him in violation of other department policies. An internal review found no wrongdoing by the officer involved in the second incident, but city officials have said they would still seek an independent review.
On Friday afternoon, in a joint email to the community, Brockett and Young announced they had selected Michelle Denae as the final member of the task force in coordination with the NAACP to ensure at least one member of the task force is Latinx.
“In addition to representing the Latinx community, Michelle’s experience as a leader of Families of Color Colorado brings valuable experience to the task force and her application also showed a strong interest in researching best practices of other citizen oversight task forces,” they wrote. “We look forward to Michelle’s contributions to the task force. We also thank all those who applied for their willingness to contribute to strengthening our community.”
The other members are Carlene Hofmann; Mike Rafik; Nami Thompson; Madelyn Strong Woodley; Michele Simpson; Sheila Davis; Selasee Atiase; Shawn Rae Passalacqua; James Hill; Shirly White; Todd Conklin; and Sophia Pelcanos. There also will be two ex-officio members: Christian Gardner-Wood of the District Attorney’s Office and John Gifford of the Public Defender’s Office.
The task force meetings, which begin next week, will be noticed and open to the public. Its recommendations are due to council by Sept. 30. The first meeting is scheduled from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday at the Open Space and Mountain Parks Hub, 2520 55th St.