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Public Expresses Concerns over Police Civilian Review Board Appointees

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People at the meeting expressed discontent with the appointment choices People at the meeting expressed discontent with the appointment choices
Don Gathers was chosen to sit on the board Don Gathers was chosen to sit on the board
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) -

People are sounding off about who Charlottesville City Council has chosen to be on the Police Civilian Review Board.

Both councilors and the public say they're disappointed by the decision, which was presented at council’s meeting on Monday, June 4.

The point of the board is to hold the police accountable for the department’s actions. But, with the people chosen, it didn't take long for the public to raise concerns.

City Councilors didn't vote unanimously to approve these appointments, and that's where people say the problems begin.

There are more questions instead of answers now as City Council has announced the seven people who will make up the first Police Civilian Review Board.

“We asked for accountability on this board, there are people on here who never had interactions with the police - that’s what it says," says Katrina Turner, who will sit on the board.

Even some of the people who got appointed to the board were upset, accusing council of not putting someone from low-income housing on the board.

“Again, I want everyone to know my vote, but I think we have a low-income member on the board,” says Mayor Nikuyah Walker.

Many people were puzzled at why others were left off the list entirely, even when City Council had a survey online to get people's input on the candidates.

“Specifically Jeff Fogel, who's been in this fight for as long as he's been here, who's led the effort on stop and frisk," says Evan Brown, who attended council’s meeting on Monday night.

Some councilors agreed that the decision was a let-down.

"I still think that the make-up of the board should have looked, looked very differently,” says Walker.

"I said what I had to say with the voting process, I'm really disappointed and I'll leave it at that,” says City Councilor Wes Bellamy.

Councilors Kathy Galvin, Mike Signer, and Heather Hill voted for the decision to approve the seven appointees. Mayor Walker and Councilor Bellamy voted against it.

“The mere fact that the vote fell directly along racial lines, that should be problematic to people,” says Don Gathers, another member of the board.

Gathers wants councilors to revisit this decision.

"I don't think that they will go back and revote it because that would be admitting a mistake, and I don't think that they have the character that is required to do that,” says Gathers.

After having an open conversation with the crowd on what councilors talked about in their closed session, Walker encouraged everyone to attend the Police Civilian Review Board’s meetings to have their voices heard. Those appointed will hold one-year terms.


Press Release from the City of Charlottesville:

CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA - Charlottesville City Council has appointed seven city residents to one-year terms on a new Police Civilian Review Board.

The Charlottesville Police Civilian Review Board will be:

  1. Gloria Beard
  2. Josh Bowers
  3. Sarah Burke
  4. Don Gathers
  5. Juan Gonzalez
  6. Katrina Turner
  7. Guillermo Ubilla

About the work of the Police Civilian Review Board

Council has called upon the Police Civilian Review Board to place an emphasis on independence, accountability, and transparency. Council believes relationship building, community trust, and civilian engagement are as critical today for police as they have ever been.

The initial Police Civilian Review Board will be tasked with drafting bylaws, which shall address matters including, but not limited to:

  • 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
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