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Nominee for civilian oversight board gets OK from public safety committee

David Noah Bell, the new nominee for the civilian oversight board's 3rd District, chats with mayoral staffer Patrick Brown after Bell's confirmation hearing on Dec. 9
Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

The new civilian oversight board for the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department is a step closer to full membership.

The city's public safety committee on Wednesday gave unqualified approval to David Noah Bell, a registered nurse and resident of the 26th Ward. 

"I have a deep love for the city," Bell said. "I’ve done outreach all over the city of St. Louis, for the last 15 years, and when I saw that there was an opportunity to serve in this capacity, I took advantage of it." He was alerted to the open position by a colleague, who sent him an advertisement from a local newspaper.

Bell has worked in the emergency room at Saint Louis University hospital for nine years. SLU Hospital is one of the city's two Level One trauma centers, treating the most severely injured patients, and Bell said he's learned a lot of skills that will be useful on the civilian oversight board.

"I'm a non-biased individual. I assess every situation as they come," Bell said. "You can imagine having to care for an individual that has just come into the ER, and he's been wounded by gun violence, and you learn that this individual was also the one that shot and killed several other people. you still have to provide as much care for this individual as you would anyone else."

Bell said he has also been trained to work with people who might be mentally ill. 

John Chasnoff, a longtime activist and co-founder of the Coalition Against Police Crimes and Repression, said the "stars aligned" when Bell decided to apply to be on the oversight board.

"I appreciate Mr. Bell’s willingness to serve. It seems to me that he fills some holes in the board, brings different experience than some of the other members do, which is always a good thing," Chasnoff said.

Bell was nominated to replace DeBorah Ahmed as the representative of the 3rd District, in north-central St. Louis. He must still be confirmed by the full Board of Aldermen, which could happen Friday.

All members have to complete certain training requirements within six months of being confirmed and attend the police department's Citizen's Academy before hearing their first case. The committee selecting the new executive director for the oversight board hopes to make its choice by early next year. That person must be confirmed by members of the civilian oversight board.

CORRECTION - An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that the executive director of the civilian oversight board must be confirmed by the Board of Aldermen. That person must be confirmed by members of the civilian oversight board. The story has been updated.

Follow Rachel Lippmann on Twitter: @rlippmann

Rachel is the justice correspondent at St. Louis Public Radio.

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