Charlottesville council, PCRB review proposed ordinance during work session

Charlottesville City Council and Police Civilian Review Board
Charlottesville City Council and Police Civilian Review Board(WVIR)
Published: Oct. 26, 2021 at 10:42 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - Charlottesville City Council and the Police Civilian Review Board are working through several documents that would empower the board.

During a virtual work session Tuesday evening, no formal action was taken, but that could come as soon as Monday.

A few documents were reviewed during the work session. First were the interim meeting procedures, which would set things up for the immediate future, like hearings. That’s the item that will be formally presented in front of city council on Monday.

One concern worked out: who will preside over the hearings as a mediator? City Attorney Lisa Robertson offered state guidance.

“The primary qualification is that they [are] an attorney and have five years of experience,” Robertson said. “But there’s also a statute that deals with conflicts of interest.”

While that item will appear on the consent agenda during Monday’s City Council meeting, Mayor Nikuyah Walker said she may pull the item because her vote would differ from the other four councilors.

Another document reviewed was the proposed ordinance, which was passed by the PCRB in August. That would grant the board a broader array of oversight, review, and investigatory powers.

Councilors made several comments, including Sena Magill’s question about why city employees would be excluded from serving on the board.

“It’s really about the appearance of a conflict and the optics of having city employees be part of this process,” said newly-appointed Executive Director Hansel Aguilar.

Another question was about whether the board had any authority over the University of Virginia Police Department. That’s unclear now, but Delegate Sally Hudson said the General Assembly could change that by clarifying things.

“It was absolutely the intent of the legislature to consider campus police in that process,” Del. Hudson, who represents Charlottesville, said.

The more than 3-hour-long meeting really got into the weeds of the policies and capabilities of the board, but Aguilar did take a moment to remind everyone why he says the board is important. He said it ensures that community members feel their concerns are being heard and acted upon.

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