Police oversight has a necessary role in public service. However, as an organization we have often highlighted the shortcomings of these boards when public service takes a backseat to political or personal agendas. This very possibility has led one man from resigning his position on the Civilian Police Oversight Agency in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Retired scientist, William Kass, has served the CPOA in Albuquerque since 2017. He sent in his letter of resignation in March, reported the Albuquerque Journal.
“In his letter, Kass said he had found serving on the board to be rewarding and he believes the best way to change police culture is to build relationships with the Albuquerque Police Department, the Department of Justice, the City Council, the independent monitor overseeing the reform effort and the community,” the Journal noted.
But Kass was led to resign, feeling that the public interest was not being put first.
He said the agency “has not taken its defined obligations seriously – instead focusing on individual members’ agendas.”
“The common theme is the apparent unwillingness of some board members to learn the basic skills and methods associated with conducting public business in general and police oversight in particular,” he continued.
It is not clear what specifically prompted his resignation, whether there was a particular incident or a slow build up to his dissatisfaction with the board. However, of note is speculation by the Albuquerque Journal that Kass being bypassed for the role of Executive Director may have been the final straw.
Whatever his reason, ultimately, we find a familiar thread in many of the conflicts found within police oversight boards. Personal ambition, or political agendas, have come to define the conduct of many boards who do not always have the best interest of law enforcement or the public as their first priorities.
We cannot say for sure that this is the case in Albuquerque, but another resignation at an agency which was already understaffed points to something not quite right within the organization.
Image Credit: Photo by Andreas Dress on Unsplash
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