Islanders for Collaborative Policing announces plan to form citizens' committee

As a follow-up to their well-attended forum last Friday, a group of Bainbridge Island citizens are forming a committee to work on police policy issues.

Islanders for Collaborative Policing is seeking volunteers to form the advisory group.

Meeting throughout the month of April, the committee will attempt to determine problems with the relationship between the community and the Bainbridge Police Department, find strengths and weaknesses in local policing, and ultimately produce recommendations to rebuild trust and improve relations.

Islanders for Collaborative Policing is not officially associated with the city of Bainbridge Island. The idea for an advisory committee was discussed at the group's forum last Friday. The meeting included a panel featuring two members from the Poulsbo Community Police Advisory Board.

Mayor Debbi Lester said the idea is a good one.

"I would love to see us have a similar model here," Lester said.

"An advisory committee would be a good thing. I like (Poulsbo's) model of being a liaison between the community and the police department," she said.

Lester hopes that the citizen committee will lead to something that the council may be able to consider.

"I have to say I appreciate the community's initiative on this," Lester said. "Many things start with the community bringing something to our attention, just like the Citizens Park Task Force with the Unocal site. This could certainly be something initiated from the community that we need to respond and follow up on."

Talk of addressing community concerns with the police department has been percolating at the council level for weeks now.

Councilwoman Kirsten Hytopoulos recently recommended hiring an outside consultant to assess the police department's culture, strengths and weaknesses.

Hytopoulos has also suggested conducting a scientific phone survey to gauge public perception of island police.

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