- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 5, 2017

TUPELO, Miss. (AP) - A Mississippi city that experienced protests last summer after a police shooting has moved to create a police advisory board.

The Tupelo City Council voted 5-1 Tuesday to create the board, with leaders telling the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal (https://bit.ly/2nEpTp1 ) that the board should help improve the relationship between city police and local residents.

“It will be a good thing,” said Police Chief Bart Aguirre. “It opens up lines of communication that maybe weren’t there before.”

Ronnie Shumpert was shot and killed by Tupelo Police Officer Tyler Cook in June, sparking protests. A grand jury declined to indict Cook in August.

Ward 6 Councilman Mike Bryan cast the lone dissenting vote against the advisory board.

“I’m not for the advisory board,” Bryan said. “I feel like it’s driven for the wrong reasons, by the Shumpert shooting.”

Tupelo’s board will not have subpoena power or be charged with investigating police misconduct. Regulations governing the board do allow for the possibility that the police chief might share private information with the board.

Members will be required to sign non-disclosure agreements and promise to maintain the confidentiality of any private details about city employees.

The ordinance approved by the council calls the advisory board “an effort to strengthen relationships and build trust.”

Additionally, the board will “provide an avenue to identify problems and address opportunities for improvement.”

Tupelo resident Pete Sims, a critic of the plan, warned that the nine-member board could develop an adversarial relationship with police and lower morale among officers.

“This is a misguided solution to a problem that does not exist,” Sims said.

Sims accused Mayor Jason Shelton of seeking the advisory board to seek favor among Democratic primary voters in the upcoming city election.

Aguirre said that he believes the board has support from police officers.

The board could meet as early as June, once city council members confirm appointees by themselves and Shelton.

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Information from: Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, https://djournal.com

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