Release Date: May 24,2021

Mayor Horrigan and Council President Sommerville Announce Immediate Enhancements to Police Auditor Position While the City’s Racial Justice and Social Equity Taskforce Develops Long-Term Recommendatio

Akron, Ohio, May 24, 2021 — Today, Mayor Dan Horrigan and Council President Margo Sommerville announced immediate enhancements to the City’s Independent Police Auditor position. These changes come while the City awaits long-term recommendations for police oversight from the City’s Racial Justice and Social Equity Taskforce (“RESJ Taskforce”), slated for the end of 2021.

The mission and objective of the City of Akron’s Independent Police Auditor is to monitor and audit Akron Police Department (APD) complaint and use of force investigations to confirm that they are thorough, objective and fair, and to make policy recommendations to enhance and improve policies and procedures of the APD.  The Auditor also serves as an alternative means to initiate a citizen complaint against an Akron police officer. 

During 2020, Akron City Council’s Reimagining Public Safety working groups examined the functions of the Independent Police Auditor and made recommendations to improve the effectiveness of the position.  Today, Mayor Horrigan and Council President Sommerville are pleased to announce that many of those recommendations are being immediately implemented, while others are undergoing vetting by the Criminal Justice subcommittee of the RESJ Taskforce.  Immediate enhancements include: (1) concurrent access to body camera footage, internal documents and information throughout police investigations regarding use of force or citizen complaints; (2) an opportunity to regularly provide feedback to APD during these ongoing investigations; and (3) a more clear reporting structure and full-time administrative support.

“While we allow the community-driven Taskforce to research and recommend long-term structural solutions to police oversight in Akron, we want to make sure that the existing Police Auditor position is able to function effectively and efficiently right now,” Mayor Horrigan said.  “These immediate changes will improve communication between the Auditor and the Police Department and provide even greater transparency for the community.  Now, the Police Auditor will have essential, concurrent access to information while investigations are ongoing, not just after an investigation is complete.”

Citizens wishing to file a complaint against an Akron Police officer have the option of filing their complaint directly with the Akron Police Department or through the Independent Police Auditor, Phil Young. Auditor Young can be reached at (330) 375-2705 or policeauditor@akronohio.gov. Under these new policies, the Auditor will have even greater access to updates regarding complaint investigations throughout the process. 

“I want to thank my colleagues on Akron City Council, the members of the Akron Police Department, and our citizens for their contributions to the Reimagining Public Safety working groups and for bringing some of these opportunities for improvement to light,” Council President Sommerville said.  “Today I am proud to say that the City listened and took action.  I look forward to watching these improvements bear fruit, and then to reviewing the final Taskforce recommendations and taking the next steps toward even more effective oversight and accountability in how we police our communities.”

“Changes are happening in Akron. The Racial Equity and Social Justice Taskforce is working diligently to recommend reforms and we are developing a plan to spend federal funds on creative solutions to violence reduction and prevention,” Mayor Horrigan added.  “And, in the coming days, I will be sharing the results of our community survey, which will help guide our priorities and decisions in recruiting Akron’s next Chief of Police, as well as our plan to engage the community in that process.  Finally, within the next few weeks, we will be introducing legislation to enact the requirements of the City’s new charter amendment regarding public access to body worn camera footage.  Through these efforts and others, I will continue to work with the Taskforce, APD, Council, and the community to enact policies that will build accountability, trust, and transparency and create safer neighborhoods for all our residents.” 

“The community expects and deserves robust, thoughtful, well-researched recommendations from the Racial Equity and Social Justice Taskforce, and we are working diligently to fulfill that charge,” Bishop F. J. “Joey” Johnson II, senior pastor at the House of the Lord and Chair of the RESJ Taskforce said. “Police oversight must address issues of systemic racism, generational mistrust, and lack of communication between our police and the citizens they serve.  While these immediate changes are a valuable start, the long-term work will require significant community buy-in that only comes through the people-centered work we are doing together through the Taskforce.”