Following a heated exchange over a request from the mayor’s office, the Atlanta City Council granted the Atlanta Citizens Review Board the ability to subpoena police officers.

The measure, which could alter the balance of power between the police and the public, also would compel the police chief to discipline any officer who refuses to testify before the citizens board. The bill passed by a vote of 13-1 on May 17.

Council member H. Lamar Willis, who sponsored the bill, said, “This just gives the CRB the ability to conduct itself in the way we intended it to have initially.”

When the citizens board began meeting in 2008, police officers at first refused to meet before it.

The bill passed after a tense debate over whether to send it back to committee for further review, a request that had been made by Mayor Kasim Reed. He wanted more time to personally review it. But Willis angrily opposed the move.

According to a spokesperson, Reed had no problem with giving the board subpoena power. But the mayor wanted to review a provision that requires the police chief to punish officers who defy the board.