Jasper holds town hall meeting with newly created Police Advisory Committee

The City of Jasper held its first town hall meeting to bridge the gap between police and citizen relations Tuesday. A committee comprised of area ministers created by the Mayor of Jasper listened to citizen concerns and heard from the police chief. 

The meeting was facilitated by the US Department of Justice following the Keyarika Diggles case in 2013. Two Jasper police officers were fired last year after they were caught on surveillance video using excessive force on Diggles. 

Tuesday night citizens said a big concern from the community is the lack of respect officers sometimes give citizens. Citizens also said people are often afraid to file complaints against the police department in fear of retaliation. 

Police Chief Bob MacDonald told citizens he has an open door policy and welcomes citizens into his office. If citizens do not feel safe filing a complaint they can take their concern to a committee member. The member of the committee will then brief the police chief or Mayor Mike Lout. 

The committee will help oversee police and citizen relations but can't take any executive action such as terminating an officer. Another concern citizens mentioned was the intimidation factor of holding meetings inside city council chambers. Monday's attendance was around 15 people including officers and Mayor Lout. 

The committee plans to hold meetings in different locations so citizens feel safe attending. The next meeting will be August 19 at Saint Michael's Catholic Church in Jasper at 6 p.m.


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