Northwest Baltimore woman nominated to the Baltimore police civilian review board

June 03, 2013|By Justin Fenton, The Baltimore Sun

A Northwest Baltimore woman was nominated to the city's police civilian review board on Monday night, the first move in filling as much as eight positions on the beleaguered nine-member board. 

The nomination of Sunny Luisa Cooper for the unpaid position represents the second time Cooper's name has been submitted to the board, which investigates citizen complaints of abusive language and excessive force by police.

She was originally put forward along with two others by Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake in 2011, and confirmed by the council, but the swearing-in never took place.

The Sun reported on Monday that the civilian review board has four vacancies that have existed for years, while four other members who have long outstayed their terms would like to leave. Cooper would fill one of the vacant positions.

When the board was created more than a decade ago, boosters promised it would prove a crucial check on brutality and abusive language by police officers. Opponents called it an intrusion into departmental discipline. It proved to be neither, and members say the panel has become irrelevant, ineffective and disengaged from the public it's supposed to represent.

Baltimore's board sometimes gets cases from police after they've already been closed, and its recommendations are very rarely followed. Its investigations and the complaints it reviews are not public, and only cryptically described at meetings. Police and union officials are supposed to hold three additional nonvoting positions on the board, but haven't been coming.

Rawlings-Blake told The Sun that staffing the board was "critically important," and aides have been seeking names for potential appointments. 

Cooper could not be immediately reached for comment Monday night. According to her LinkedIn page, she works in real estate developing and managing affordable housing for the disabled, and is a graduate of Baltimore City College and Coppin State University. 

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