Charlottesville Police Civilian Review Board

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The Charlottesville Police Civilian Review Board (CRB or PCRB) is an oversight body for the Charlottesville Police Department. Seven were appointed to the board on February 18, 2020. [1]

An initial board was created in late 2017 to draft a recommended ordinance and bylaws that would govern a permanent board. "At present, the CRB does not have the authority to initiate or review complaints against the police. The CRB is, in fact, in the process of researching and developing the most effective way to provide civilian oversight of the police department, including the review of civilian complaints against police officers. Currently, the only way to file a complaint against a Police officer is through the Police Department directly. The CRB encourages anyone who has experienced or witnessed perceived police misconduct to file a complaint with the Police Department."[2]

By Resolution approved on December 18, 2017, the City Council authorize the creation of an initial Police Civilian Review Board (“Board”) composed of eight members to be appointed by the Council to a one-year term. The initial Board was tasked with drafting bylaws and defining the Board’s proposed mission.[3] The initial board was appointed in August 2018.

History

The CRB was formed in August with seven appointees to draft bylaws that would guide later, fully functional boards.

By Resolution, the Council tasked the initial Police Civilian Review Board (CRB) with drafting bylaws, which were to address matters including:[4]

  • Defining the CRB's proposed mission;
  • Proposing CRB membership, including number of members, representation, membership criteria and length of term;
  • Researching, documenting and incorporating best practices for independent civilian review boards, including but not limited to working with such groups as the National Association for Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement (NACOLE);
  • Creating guidelines or a Memorandum of Understanding for effectively interacting with the Chief of Police;
  • Defining an effective and cooperative structure for CRB review of police actions;
  • Developing procedures for reviewing police matters, including but not limited to investigative detention reports, use-of-force incidents, and internal affairs appeals;
  • Implementing mechanisms for reporting out findings, including a quarterly report delivered to Council;
  • Seeking input from the City Attorney, Commonwealth’s Attorney, and the Chief of Police as to whether or not special enabling legislation and ordinances are required, and to ensure legal constraints, liability concerns, and privacy issues are properly addressed;
  • Providing appropriate CRB member training; and
  • Recommending level of City staff support for the CRB.

Since the beginning, the board faced many controversies.

Membership woes

When the board was first seated, many community members were angered that local civil rights attorney Jeff Fogel and activist Rosia Parker weren't selected.[5] Parker was later appointed.

At their meeting on August 28, 2018, the group discussed whether they should ask council to appoint a ninth member, presumably Fogel, but the action never occurred. [6]

In fall 2018, Juan Gonzalez resigned from the board. [7] Don Gathers resigned from the board in January 2019, citing health reasons. [7][8] The board would stay at six members for the rest of its existence.

Tensions with Charlottesville Police Department

The initial board was also at odds with the Charlottesville Police Department, particular Police Chief RaShall Brackney, over transparency and access to data, specifically information regarding stop-and-frisk. Brackney contended that a new software system made it difficult to extract the data and it had to be gathered by hand.[9]

The board's first few months were spent crafting bylaws that it would use to conduct its own work of making an ordinance and bylaws for the permanent panel. Those were approved in November 2018, but the City Council decided it wouldn't sign off on them, although supporters said that was necessary to compel CPD to provide data.[10]

Brackney came under fire again in December 2018 after telling The Daily Progress that a “vocal and biased” CRB is one of the reasons the department was down 30 officers in what she called a “mass exodus.”[11]

Dispute over scheduling

The tensions came to a boiling point in April 2019. During one of its meetings, members of the initial CRB said that Brackney wouldn't schedule a public meeting to discuss a memorandum of understanding about access to CPD data and files for a permanent board’s oversight of the department..[12]

A few days later, the city issued a news release refuting board members claims and Brackney later disputed The Daily Progress story about the meeting. [13] The city later retracted the portion of the release that called board member Josh Bowers' comments inaccurate. [14]

“The strained relations ... are unfortunate and the manner in which they were inaccurately characterized this week is damaging,” Interim City Manager Mike Murphy said in the release. “I believe [Police Chief RaShall Brackney] has accomplished a great deal in her review and reorganization of the Charlottesville Police Department and should be commended for her efforts to provide greater transparency.” [13]

In an email to The Progress, Brackney called the headline — which said that the police board members stated at the meeting that the “chief won’t set [a] public meeting” — “disingenuous and inherently false.” [13]

“Not only are the headlines and statements false, misleading and inaccurate — the attempt to create derision and controversy when none existed speaks to the division within this community,” Brackney wrote.

Board member Josh Bowers also claimed that the city, in its news release, “stitched together two separate email threads, only one of which is complete.” [13]

Tensions were strained even further in May 2019 when The Daily Progress obtained a copy of Brackney's calendar and reported that it appeared to show that she was available during several suggested meeting times, although emails to a board member indicated she was busy.[15]

“[M]y calendar reflects confirmed, and scheduled meetings, not those that are being requested or considered,” Brackney wrote in an email to The Progress. “Please do not assume that a non-busy hour on the calendar is unaccounted for in my daily schedule.”[15]

The Progress story also cited the city for estimating that an open records request for emails related to the controversy would cost $3,000 to fulfill and require a $700 deposit. The city didn't provide a cost breakdown.

The Progress story and the reporter, Nolan Stout, were the center of a back-and-forth between councilors and residents during the City Council meeting after it was published.[16]

CRB member Rosia Parker thanked the newspaper for the report and reiterated that “we want transparency.” Mayor Nikuyah Walker said that "Nolan and his reporting would be the problem here.”

Final proposal

The initial CRB finally presented its proposal in August 2019. It recommended a panel that could conduct independent investigations, review complaints and track department data and trends.

The proposal came with two staff positions: an executive director and a police auditor.[17]

The board will include seven voting panelists and one nonvoting member. Three people will be appointed from a historically disadvantaged community or will live in public housing.

One member will represent a racial or social justice organization. The person who represents a racial or social justice organization can live or work in the city. All other board members must be city residents.

The nonvoting member will be someone who has policing expertise or experience, according to board documents.

Members cannot be city employees, candidates for public office, former Charlottesville Police Department employees or immediate family members of an employee of a current law enforcement agency.

City Council approval

In October 2019, the City Council published the proposed ordinance and bylaws it might adopt and it was different from the recommendations, which irked activists and initial board members. [18][19][20]

After public outcry that the proposal was too weak, the council's proposal was revised and approved in November 2019.[21] [22]

The council set an internal deadline of Dec. 16, 2019, its final meeting of the year, to appoint a board. The city received 14 applicants and postponed its original plan to interview applicants in a closed session prior to the Dec. 16 meeting. [23][24]

Funding

The Council will reserve $2,500 from the Council Strategic Initiatives Fund for the operating costs of the initial Board, including community outreach events, with expenditures approved by the City Manager.[25]

The initial CRB bylaws called for a budget ranging from $107,000 to $180,000 per year or not less than 1% of the Charlottesville Police Department’s budget, which is about $18 million for the current fiscal year. That decision, however, will be made administratively during the budget cycle and is not directly decided by the council.

Members

Council appointed seven members on February 18, 2020. [1] The City Council received 25 applications. [26]

In late January 2020, the council narrowed the applicant list to 14 people to interview in February. [27] The finalists are Gwendolyn Allen, Lucas Beane, Bellamy Brown, Nancy Carpenter, Joshua Carp, Brad Carson, Stuart Evans, Deirdre Gilmore, Vicki Hawes, Dorenda Johnson, Jaree Magee, William Mendez, Kristin Schroeder and James Watson.[28]

Phillip Seay was appointed by Council on June 1, 2020. [29]

Membership

At the December 16, 2019 City Council meeting, Council voted to extend the deadline for applications to the Board. Applications were accepted through January 15, 2020.

  • 3 vacancies - residents of public housing at the time of their appointment or come from historically-disadvantaged communities that have traditionally experienced disparate policing
  • 1 vacancy - represent an organization, office, or agency that seeks racial or social justice or that otherwise advocates on behalf of historically-disadvantaged communities, particularly communities that have experienced disparate policing
  • 1 vacancy - non-voting member with law enforcement experience
  • 3 additional vacancies

Term

  • Inaugural board - 18 months (3 voting members)
  • 3-years (4 voting members)
  • 3-years (1 non-voting member)

Initial CRB

The following community members were appointed to the initial Police Civilian Review Board (CRB) and tasked with creating a draft ordinance and bylaws for a permanent board:[30]

  1. Gloria Beard;
  2. Josh Bowers, University of Virginia law professor
  3. Sarah Burke, criminal defense investigator and mitigation specialist
  4. Don Gathers, activist
  5. Juan Gonzalez, attorney
  6. Rosia Parker, activist
  7. Katrina Turner, activist
  8. Guillermo Ubilla, artist and community volunteer [31]

Juan Gonzalez and Don Gathers later resigned.[7][8] The initial board remained at six members for the rest of its existence.

PCRB Executive Director

  • TBD

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 Web. Council appoints seven to Police CRB, Nolan Stout, Daily Progress, World Media Enterprises, February 19, 2020, retrieved February 23, 2020. Print. February 19, 2020 page A1.
  2. http://www.charlottesville.org/departments-and-services/boards-and-commissions/police-civilian-review-board | Departments and Services, Boards and Commissions, Police Civilian Review Board |accessdate=February 14, 2019
  3. http://www.charlottesville.org/home/showdocument?id=62535
  4. http://www.charlottesville.org/home/showdocument?id=62535
  5. Web. City police panel formed, but exclusions roil activists, Chris Suarez, Daily Progress, World Media Enterprises
  6. Web. Tempers Flare at Civilian Review Board Meeting with City Council, Pete DeLuca, News Article, NBC29, August 28, 2018, retrieved August 30, 2018.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 Web. City police board discusses seeking extra year to craft bylaws, Nolan Stout, Daily Progress, World Media Enterprises
  8. 8.0 8.1 Web. Gathers delays start of his council campaign, resigns from police review board, Nolan Stout, Daily Progress, World Media Enterprises
  9. Web. Brackney: Software issue preventing release of city stop-and-frisk data, Nolan Stout, Daily Progress, World Media Enterprises
  10. Web. Police civilian board airs grievances at council meeting, Nolan Stout, Daily Progress, World Media Enterprises
  11. Web. Charlottesville Police Department seeing a 'mass exodus', Nolan Stout, Daily Progress, World Media Enterprises
  12. Web. Charlottesville's police review board says Brackney won’t schedule a public meeting, Nolan Stout, Daily Progress, World Media Enterprises
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 13.3 Web. Dispute between city, police chief and review board intensifies, Nolan Stout, Daily Progress, World Media Enterprises
  14. Web. City officials retract statement on CRB meeting, Daily Progress, World Media Enterprises
  15. 15.0 15.1 Web. Brackney's calendar seems to contradict availability claims, Nolan Stout, Daily Progress, World Media Enterprises
  16. Web. Councilors defend police chief before upset meeting crowd, Nolan Stout, Daily Progress, World Media Enterprises
  17. Web. CRB presents proposal to City Council, Nolan Stout, Daily Progress, World Media Enterprises
  18. Web. Police Civilian Review Board proposal shows major changes from initial recommendation, Nolan Stout, Daily Progress, World Media Enterprises
  19. Web. Initial CRB members, community concerned final proposal is too weak, Nolan Stout, Daily Progress, World Media Enterprises
  20. Web. Back to the drawing board: Protest over City Council revisions to CRB proposal, Brielle Entzminger, C-VILLE Weekly, Portico Publications
  21. Web. Amid public gripes, City Council signs off on Police Civilian Review Board, Nolan Stout, Daily Progress, World Media Enterprises
  22. Web. Council approves bylaws for Police Civilian Review Board, CBS19
  23. Web. City Council cancels plans to conduct CRB interviews on Monday, Nolan Stout, Daily Progress, World Media Enterprises
  24. Web. City Council will not interview CRB candidates Monday, WINA
  25. http://www.charlottesville.org/home/showdocument?id=62535
  26. Web. Twelve more apply to join Charlottesville Police CRB, Nolan Stout, Daily Progress, World Media Enterprises
  27. Web. City Council to interview people for Police CRB, Daily Progress, World Media Enterprises
  28. Web. City receives applications for seats on CRB, Nolan Stout, Daily Progress, World Media Enterprises
  29. Web. Final member appointed to Charlottesville police oversight panel, Associated Press, News Article, WTOP, June 3, 2020, retrieved June 11, 2020.
  30. http://www.charlottesville.org/departments-and-services/boards-and-commissions/police-civilian-review-board
  31. Web. Fogel's membership remains a sticking point for city police review board, Tyler Hammel, News Article, Charlottesville Daily Progress, August 28, 2018, retrieved August 30, 2018.

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