West Valley mayor calls for transparency to address 'challenges' of its police force

Published: Tuesday, March 26 2013 8:55 p.m. MDT

The letter, Winder said, is "not a knock" on the police department. But rather he said it is a good time to look at what other cities, such as Salt Lake City, are doing. Cities are not required to have a Professional Standards Review Board. But both Salt Lake City and West Valley City do.

"Our effort in putting that (committee) together in the first place was citizen accountability," Pyle said.

But while the focus in the past was on how the committee reviewed police cases, Pyle said maybe more focus needs to be given to how citizens are viewing what is happening from an outside perspective.

Both Pyle and acting Police Chief Anita Schwimmer said they both would like the department to be more transparent, as long as legal concerns, the rights of victims and the ability to protect the integrity of an investigation are balanced with the public's right to know.

"Certainly we have had our challenges over the last couple of years from a media relations standpoint. There have been a lot of adverse kind of cases that have been here in this city that we need to respond to," Pyle said. "We want our residents and our citizens to be comfortable that we have a great, and a functioning and an effective police force that is obeying the law."

Pyle said one idea that may be discussed would be allowing police to give more of a preliminary statement at the outset of an investigation to give the public comfort that a case is being worked.

"One thing, for sure, we would like to do from an improvement standpoint from that angle, is see how we can be more open at the very beginning of a process without compromising the investigation," he said.

Winder also asked Pyle to look at the possibility of giving the citizen's review committee its own full-time investigator.

E-mail: preavy@deseretnews.com

Twitter: DNewsCrimeTeam

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