Citizens may get more talk time before police jurors

By Theresa Schmidt - bio | email

LAKE CHARLES, LA. (KPLC) -Calcasieu Police jurors keep order at meetings by enforcing certain rules-- such as who can talk and when. At this week's committee meeting,  one juror suggested they consider changing one rule to allow more talk time for citizens.

If you've ever been to a poorly run meeting, where rules of order are not enforced, you know it can quickly get out of control. But during Calcasieu Police Jury meetings they stick to rules of parliamentary procedure.  People have to be recognized to talk and stick to the topic at hand... Still, following such rules, such as requiring that an item be put on the agenda before a citizen can discuss it might seem a bit restrictive to some.

Police Juror Elizabeth Griffin expressed frustration when a citizen voicing a concern at their committee night meeting was interrupted when someone pointed out the item was not on the agenda. "We have our own Roberts Rules of Order. My concern is I'm upset that this was even brought up without anyone saying that we had to have a special motion but nevertheless we have it."

Yet administrator Bryan Beam points out the rules help assure that others interested get advance notice that a topic will come up. "So that there's notice it's being discussed so anybody else involved can be here as well. And that's afforded to all citizens. It's not against any one."

The citizen who wanted to speak at this committee meeting was heard...but the debate prompted Juror Dennis Scott to suggest they consider changing their rules to allow citizens to speak up on any topic at the end of some meetings as some other public bodies do. "To where you allow anyone from the citizens who want to without being on the agenda because it's basically an item now. They get to come up."

Though Scott says there would still be restrictions.  "We give 'em three minutes, five minutes whatever but the general policy is you don't ask questions, you just let them voice. An idea the pro's and cons of which may itself bring a lot of debate down the road."

Scott indicated he'll get with staff to look into some of the ways other governmental bodies deal with allowing citizens to speak out on items that are not on the agenda.

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