Citizen complaint decision postponed

By Gus Bode

A misunderstanding in rhetoric spurred a Monday meeting at City Hall.

The Carbondale Board of Fire and Police Commissioners met Monday morning to discuss a proposed review of the language in the citizen’s complaint process concerning city employees. After a long discussion, the attendants decided to hold off on making a decision until further information is gathered, said City Manager Jeff Doherty.

The review came after Elbert Simon, a member of the Board, looked over the procedures outlined for complaints and felt there was a problem in the language of the process.


Simon felt the text of the procedure downplayed the role of the Board of Fire and Police Commissioners.

“It’s completely toothless,” Simon said at the meeting.

John Boddie, a member of the Black Affairs Council, said he felt there was still something lacking with the process. Boddie and other students had raised concerns about police brutality about two months ago. Even after filing a complaint, Boddie said he did not feel justice was served.

“For a while they wouldn’t even speak to us unless we gave them a complaint, when we did, they looked it over, and they put the whole department under review, which did nothing,” Boddie said. “I don’t even know if they’re still under review or still under investigation or anything. I never got any information.”

The procedures state that any citizen can file a complaint about a city employee with Carbondale City Manager Jeff Doherty, the Carbondale Board of Fire and Police Commissioners, or the Carbondale Police Department. Once a complaint has been filed, it is reviewed and the final decision is up to Doherty.

However, if the one who filed the complainant disagrees, or a disciplined city employee disagrees, an appeal can be made with the Board of Fire and Police Commissioners and a recommendation is made to Doherty. The problem was with the language used in the manual, which some members of the board felt was vague.

Doherty said he had previously revised the rules, splitting up what was previously one chapter into two – one about the citizens’ complaint process and another regarding the employee disciplinary process.


“If someone makes an appeal to the board, they conduct their own review and present a recommendation, then of course I consider it with a lot of weight,” Doherty said.

Doherty insisted that the complaint and appeals process is already in place, and his decision-making power is the standard way power is distributed in a Council-Manager form of government, which is the way Carbondale operates.

Doherty also stressed that any revision made would apply only to the wording of the rules and not actual procedure.

Boddie said he would like to see a different system where the final decision does not rest on the City Manager alone. Still, he said he felt a review of the language was still a good start.

“This is a step in the right direction,” he said.

Daily Egyptian writer David Lopez can be reached at 536-3311 ext. 273 or [email protected].