On September 23rd, a public hearing was held to gather community feedback on Local Law 1-2020: Local Law Amending the Geneva City Charter To Establish a Police Accountability Board. In this draft of the new law was a section prohibiting former Geneva Police officers and their immediate family from serving on the the PAB.
But when City Council held their first meeting to review and make changes to the existing draft law, the section prohibiting GPD officers and family members from serving on the board had mysteriously disappeared.
Who tampered with the document, and why was the section removed without any input from council?
The Missing Sentence
After two-plus months of public feedback, discussion, delays, consultations with attorneys, and attacks from the police union, the City of Geneva released the draft version of Local Law 1-2020 to establish a PAB on September 15th, 2020.
Section 15-3, paragraph C stated the following:
Members of the Board and their immediate family shall not be currently or formerly employed by the GPD. No more than one (1) member of the Board at a time may be a former law enforcement employee with an agency other than the GPD or an immediate family member of a person formerly employed in non-GPD law enforcement.
The public hearing for community feedback on this draft law took place on September 23rd. At the end of the public hearing, a special council meeting to discuss changes to the local law was scheduled for October 6th.
And sometime between September 23rd and October 6th, the above paragraph prohibiting GPD officers and family members from serving on the PAB was changed.
The change was made WITHOUT any vote or discussion by City Council.
No more than one (1) member of the Board at a time may be a former law enforcement employee with an agency other than the GPD or an immediate family member of a person formerly employed in non-GPD law enforcement.
This is the sentence that was removed:
Members of the Board and their immediate family shall not be currently or formerly employed by the GPD.
Note: the October 6th document available on the city’s website includes changes that were made during the October 6th meeting. These changes were made after the original local law had been tampered with.
Who Changed The Law?
On July 2, 2020, Geneva City Council voted 5-4 to pass Resolution #34-2020 to establish a public hearing for a local law establishing a police accountability board in Geneva. Over the following month, City Attorney Emil Bove (without any opposition or direction from City Manager Sage Gerling), delayed and obstructed the process for creating a PAB draft law and public hearing.
“Vote to remove the city attorney,” he said. “He lied to all of us and purposely sabotaged a duly voted public hearing against the majority vote. Vote to remove the city manager. If she didn’t know what was happening and couldn’t ensure the city followed the process, then she was either neglectful or complicit and either way has no business being city manager.”
Several councilors and community members also criticized Bove for obstructing the process.
Then, less than two months later, the working draft of the Local Law creating a PAB in Geneva was edited without the knowledge of City Council.
And this mysterious tampering would significantly weaken the power of the PAB by allowing GPD officers and their family members to serve on the community oversight board.
So whose job was it to prepare the Local Law documentation for City Council to review on October 6th?
City Attorney Emil Bove.
The city attorney made a drastic change to the Local Law after the public hearing, without city council’s knowledge or input.
Since that time, City Council unknowingly moved forward on reviewing and voting on changes to the local law…which had already been changed behind their backs by the city attorney.
If City Council was waiting for yet another reason to relieve Emil Bove of his duties as city attorney, it looks like they have it.
Any city attorney who works behind City Council’s back to dramatically change a local law under discussion should be fired.
In addition, Bove’s actions also call into question the entire review and update process taken by City Council over the last month and a half.
If City Council has been reviewing and voting on a document that was altered AFTER the public hearing, then the entire process should be reset.
Tonight (November 30, 2020), City Council will be holding a special meeting to review the Police Accountability Board law, and they may possibly vote on the final version of the law before scheduling another public hearing in January.
Contact City Council (or sign up public comment during the December 2nd regular Council meeting) and let them know that Emil Bove’s continued egregious behavior should not be tolerated, and that the PAB should not include any law enforcement officers, regardless of whether the city attorney agrees or not.