Monday, June 24, 2024

The citizen panel overseeing Cambridge police — a panel dogged by complaints of irrelevance — canceled its Wednesday meeting and won’t meet again until Jan. 27.

“Two members couldn’t make it, so we didn’t have a quorum,” Joe Johnson, investigator for the Police Review and Advisory Committee, said Thursday. The volunteer panel is intended to have five members, but there has been a vacancy for more than a year, meaning two members being unable to attend a scheduled monthly meeting leaves the remaining two unable to form a majority and do business.

The two missing members, Susan Mellucci and Martin Small, said they could not attend the meeting for personal reasons, Johnson said.

City Manager Robert W. Healy says the business of the panel goes on despite the lack of a fifth member or a director — who, when hired, will also oversee the Human Rights Commission — and Johnson believed there was business to be handled, in addition to a public comment period, had the Wednesday meeting taken place. Because the meeting was canceled at least a day ahead, an agenda was never made up.

Usually a meeting cancellation would be posted on the board’s Web site, but Johnson said he didn’t get the chance.

The position of director has been empty for almost a year. The job was posted in August as a “Human Rights Commission Executive Director/Police Review and Advisory Board Executive Secretary.”

North Cambridge lawyer Richard Clarey said he went to the board’s offices Wednesday to ask about its investigation into the July 16 arrest of Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. and to ask about the appointment of a director. He was told Thursday that candidates for director are down to three finalists.