Citizen Review Board To Look Over Sand Springs Officer-Involved Shooting

Tuesday, September 10th 2019, 7:59 pm
By: Amy Avery

For the first time in nearly four years, Sand Springs had an officer-involved shooting that requires a citizen review board to look over their internal investigation.

Sand Springs Police Department has four community members that sit in on their meetings whenever they do an internal review for use of force incidents or a pursuit. They say they wanted to create this board to show the community they have nothing to hide.

"As a pastor, I really wouldn't want anyone to feel abused or be abused and with this accountability, in place I hope that we can at least keep that in check,” said Lead Pastor at Church that Matters, Rusty Gunn.

Gunn serves on Sand Springs Police Department's Citizen Review Board.

The board is made up of four community members, who go through an extensive process to learn police policy.

"Without that training, I'd be giving my opinion," said Gunn. "Now, really getting to know those policies and understand how those decisions are made in the heat of the moment was crucial."

Gunn said he also has access to the policies while they are reviewing different incidents. Having extensive training will also be helpful when the board reviews the body cam video of their most recent officer-involved shooting.

Related Story - Sand Springs Police Release Video From Fatal Officer-Involved Shooting

This is the first officer-involved shooting since the board was put into place.

The internal review board won’t look over the case until the District Attorney decides whether or not the shooting was justified.

“The review board’s purpose is to determine if the policies were followed or if anything in the policy needs to be changed or if there’s any training aspects that we learned as a result of this critical incident,” said Sand Springs Police Captain Todd Enzbrenner.

Enzbrenner said they chose four people who were well known in the community and had a diverse background.

"We want their input; we want their feedback and we want their buy-in because they have to feel comfortable that we are doing the right thing for their community,” said Enzbrenner.

Sand Springs Police Department decided to add a Citizen Review Board in 2016. The citizens essentially audit the internal review board as they go over anything from pursuits, to traffic stops to an officer deploying a taser.

"If they think we've done something inappropriately or we've tried to sweep it under the rug or we didn't do our due diligence then their job is to contact the chief,” said Enzbrenner.

These community members don't have a voting say during the internal investigation, but they can ask questions and give feedback to the board or go to the chief of police or the mayor if they feel something isn't handled right.

“We didn’t change the way we've done our jobs since day one,” said Captain Enzbrenner. “We do the jobs the same way it’s just that now that we have a little bit of oversight, there’s a little bit more transparency which I hope makes the community feel better.”

"Thankfully we have a great police department and they follow policy,” said Gunn. “There have been very few instances where we've had to say maybe this could’ve been handled a different way and those things are addressed from there.”

Right now, only three citizens serve on the review board, but Sand Springs Police are getting ready to look for a fourth member.

Keeping checking the department's Facebook page if you are interested in getting involved.

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