LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — Mayor Linda Gorton appointed the first civilians to the police disciplinary review board.
Allison Connelly and Darlene Barber will serve alongside seven other members in two-year terms. Father Jim Sichko has been named as an alternate.
Gorton opened civilian nominations in February of 2022 with the hopes of improving police accountability and transparency. It began, what she calls, a "collective bargaining contract" with police to keep her Commission for Racial Justice and Equality as a top priority. All appointments had to be confirmed by the Urban County Council.
All citizen-members also must be 21 years or older and reside in Fayette County without any felony or misdemeanor convictions within the last five years. From 74 applications, Gorton said she chose appointees who are fair-minded, ethical, and objective.
Connelly is an attorney who has led the city’s Ethics Commission and served on the Lexington-Fayette Human Rights Commission. In her application, she shared how this board would use her legal knowledge and skills to better the community.
“I believe I have a responsibility to serve where I live and work and the community that I love," she said.
Barber is an employee of the state Personnel Cabinet who has served as co-chair of the Minority Business Expo and as recording secretary of Delta Sigma Theta Inc. Lexington Alumnae Chapter. She grew up in Lexington and now, as she watches her grandchildren grow up, says she wants things to be better for them and all citizens.
"I want to help provide change and make this a better place to work, play and live," she said. "We need peace in this place.”
Father Jim Sichko is a papal missionary of mercy, a rarified group of 700 priests from around the world, including several from the United States. They were appointed directly by Pope Francis with a mandate to preach about mercy and to become more "an icon of the Father’s merciful love and the Church’s maternal compassionate solicitude."
As a priest and a citizen serving on this board, Sichko says he values the work of first responders but wants to hold them accountable. He said, "I also value the belief that all people, regardless of position, power or authority, must act justly and not abuse the gift given to them."
Gorton said the Review Board considers substantiated complaints made against officers as cases where the Police Chief has declined to propose sanction(s) or cases where an officer has rejected the Chief's recommended discipline charge(s) and proposed sanction(s). The board’s recommendations are forwarded to the Chief for further action.