More residents have filed complaints over the appointment of new members to the Police Oversight Panel. Credit: Boulder Police

Nearly two weeks ago, after several delays, the Boulder City Council appointed six new volunteers to serve on the city’s Police Oversight Panel, which reviews city investigations into officer misconduct. 

The drawn-out process has been politically fraught. Pushback from some residents prompted councilmembers to twice delay a vote on whether to appoint the new members, who need time to complete training and orientation before their first meeting in March.

The dust is yet to settle on the appointments, as residents continue to file complaints with the city alleging violations of city code and policy. The allegations could trigger new investigations into members of the Boulder City Council, the volunteers and nonprofits who helped nominate panel members — including the NAACP Boulder County and El Centro Amistad — and city police officers. 

On Jan. 30, 2023, after city council approved the slate of panel members, Emily Reynolds, who helps lead Thinkboulder, an advocacy organization opposing high-density housing developments, filed a code-of-conduct complaint alleging that six members of the Boulder City Council violated city code when they approved the panelists. (The six councilmembers were Mayor Aaron Brockett, Junie Joseph, Rachel Friend, Matt Benjamin, Lauren Folkerts and Nicole Speer.) 

Reynolds cited a provision in the ordinance that created the panel stating that its members must show an “absence of any real or perceived bias.” Reynolds, who referred to two of the newly appointed members of the Police Oversight Panel as “cop haters” during a council meeting in January, argued councilmembers should not have appointed them. Her complaint is similar to one filed in January by a different resident that led to an investigation by the city.

The new panel member who has drawn the most attention in these complaints is Lisa Sweeney-Miran, the executive director of Mother House, a homeless shelter. Last year, Sweeney-Miran sued the city’s police chief over the enforcement of Boulder’s camping ban, which makes it illegal for homeless people to sleep outside in public spaces. (On Feb. 1, 2023, a Boulder County District Court judge approved a motion by Sweeney-Miran to withdraw herself as a plaintiff in the case.) Sweeney-Miran has been critical of police tactics and behavior. 

Reynolds also filed a second complaint against Councilmember and state Rep. Junie Joseph. It alleges Joseph violated city code when she voted against launching an investigation of the selection committee after the first complaint. Joseph said such an investigation could have a “chilling effect” on panel members. Reynolds’ complaint argues Joseph was required under city code to approve the investigation. (The investigation is underway.) 

Meanwhile, on Feb. 7, Jane Hummer, a local political organizer and energy consultant, filed a complaint alleging several city police officers, wearing their uniforms and armed, violated department policy and city code when they attended a January city council meeting. 

According to the complaint, at least two officers stood up when another officer representing the Boulder Police Officers Association told city councilmembers during open comment that the selection committee showed “blatant non-compliance” with city code.

Hummer described this as an “inappropriate show of force” that sought “to intimidate the city council and the community members present.” She alleges this also violates police department policies and procedures on wearing a uniform while off duty and showing an affiliation with the Boulder Police Department while expressing a position on social issues. She said it also violated the city’s ethical standards.

At least five complaints have now been filed in response to the appointment process. 

The first complaint, from Jan. 19, came from John Neslage, a corporate lawyer from Boulder who has said a man masturbated in front of his daughter at the Boulder Public Library. He alleged the selection committee violated city code when it nominated Sweeney-Miran due to her bias. 

The second complaint was filed by Zayd Atkinson, whose interaction with a Boulder police officer in 2019 is often cited as the reason why Boulder needs civilian oversight of its officers. Atkinson alleged the city council did not “fulfill their required duties” when it delayed a vote on appointing new members. He also alleged that when the city council requested written information from the selection committee regarding their nominations, it “intruded on the confidential deliberation of the selection committee by demanding information about the selection committee’s deliberations.”

The Boulder City Council has appointed Clay Douglas, a former city attorney for Longmont and Loveland and a municipal law consultant, as special counsel to investigate the complaints. (According to City Attorney Teresa Tate, under city code, the city council is required to appoint either the city attorney or special council to investigate the complaint.)

Given the number of complaints related to the appointment process, the city plans to have Douglas investigate all complaints related to the selection of Police Oversight Panel members.

His hourly rate is $250, according to city officials. 

John Herrick is senior reporter for Boulder Reporting Lab, covering housing, transportation, policing and local government. He previously covered the state Capitol for The Colorado Independent and environmental policy for He is interested in stories about people, power and fairness. Email:

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  1. Of all the people who could do this why do we have to have someone who generates as much controversy as Sweeney-Miran?

    This will now cost the city a ton of money to investigate… this is simply stupid and a waste of money.

    If she’s so unpopular as to have garnered so much pushback, just nominate someone else. It’s not like she is the only person in the city qualified to be on this committee.

    What ever happened to compromise? Working together for the greater good?

  2. Community Oversight of Police is becoming common. Seems like the people of Boulder need to find a way to select members and allow them to deliberate in terms of the oversight role? It seems like the fairest way is by randomly-selected citizen juries? I have no connection with Healthy Democracy, but I know they specialize in this area. Better than having your city torn apart by poisonous polarization?

    Good luck!

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