MORGANTOWN, W.Va. The new Citizens Police Review and Advisory Committee made a formal presentation to Morgantown city council members during the Tuesday committee of the whole meeting.

Committee chairman Rich Burks said the very young committee has seven of the nine members seated, and they are looking for help to fill the remaining spots from council members. Bylaws for the group are written, and successful preliminary meetings have been held with Morgantown Police Department Chief Eric Powell.

“We’ve had several conversations with the chief, and he’s been very receptive and forthcoming with information,” Burks said. “I can’t say enough about that, and I think we have a good relationship moving forward.”

The committee plans to review an arrest from August 2021 on Thursday, February 29. Burks said he and the group want to look at the entire response, from the 911 call to the actual arrest, so they can see how policies are implemented.

“We need to understand—you have a policy, what are the objectives of that policy, and what are the steps you need to take to discharge responsibility under that particular policy,” Burks said.

Burks said that incident review and access to other records will allow them to build a database of information they can draw from in the future. Understanding the policies will help them respond better to members of the public and give them the basis for forming questions.

“We want to be able to say that any recommendation we make will be supported by data,” Burks said. “We want to take the emotion out of this completely.”

Burks said the committee also wants to find out what the public opinion of law enforcement is in Morgantown. The survey will be circulated throughout the community, and the results will be tabulated to learn more about local public opinion and police officers.

“We’re also developing a community survey in conjunction with WVU,” Burks said. “We’re going to use that to gauge police perception, and we’re going to do that in 2024 also.”

Burks said committee members will be engaged and learn as much as possible from sources inside the police department and from local experts.

“We’ve had a training session with Dr. James Nolan on community policing, so that’s the training we’ve had to date, and we’re looking to get something else besides that,” Burks said.