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Valdosta launches Citizens Engagement Board, focused on improving community-police relationships

The board is made up of eight appointed community members.
Posted at 6:58 PM, Sep 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-14 18:58:48-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — Better relationships between the people and the police is Valdosta's main goal for the Citizens Engagement Board.

The city council appointed eight community members to sit on the board Monday.

Valdosta City Manager Mark Barber says this has been a goal for the city for more than a year.

"With any local government or any branch of government, accountability and transparency is how you earn trust with your community. The police department is definitely no different from another department," said Barber. "The last year and a half, myself and the Chief along with our Council have been working on another layer of transparency and accountability in the form of this engagement board."

That board will review the use of force and other complaints against the police, as well as work beside the police to strengthen community relations.

"They're really here to be that liaison between the police department and our community. They'll participate in community functions, they'll tell the good things that have going on at the police department," said Barber.

This new addition to the city is one term of Antonio Smith's settlement after a run-in with police resulted in a broken wrist.