CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - On Tuesday, Charlottesville’s Police Civilian Review Board (PCRB) met for the second time and voted to ask the City Council why it changed the bylaws the board has to follow.
This comes after the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus announced its support of giving more power to civilian review boards.
“We tried to put together something that was proactive, and I think the city passed something that was reactive,” Guillermo Ubilla, a former board member, said.
Ubilla helped write the initial bylaws, which included “taking a look at the big picture of everything that’s happening with the police in terms of the budget, in terms of who they’re stopping and why they’re stopping them.”
He also said he supports the current review board’s decision “100%,” and that he thinks “the review board needs the community support to be successful.”
At last week’s virtual meeting, the PCRB formally asked the City Council to revert to the original bylaws, and on Tuesday night, the board asked for a written explanation on why it was changed.
“People feel like something was taken away from them, and they were never given a reason why,” Board Chair James Watson said.
The Virginia Legislative Black Caucus also announced it will propose a bill in the General Assembly to strengthen police review boards, including subpoena powers.
“Certainly having subpoena power within the police department is critical because we’ve seen the problem over the year of officers who don’t want to speak about other officers’ conduct,” said Attorney Jeff Fogel.
Before the meeting adjourned, members Dorenda Johnson and Deirdre Gillmore had a passionate discussion about the Charlottesville Police Department and the role of the board to implement change.
“We are so tired of being mistreated,” Gillmore said. “We don’t deserve to be mistreated.”
“Be willing to accept the constructive criticisms and make it a point to want to work alongside with the new CRB to make the changes to help this community, before you are on the television in a very negative way again,” Johnson said as a message to CPD.
One other measure brought up to help the board remain independent is the option of hiring an independent counsel. Currently, the board gets its legal advice from City Attorney John Blair.