Civilian Review Board Asking for Feedback, Extension from Charlottesville
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - Charlottesville and its police department are facing some criticism from the Police Civilian Review Board (CRB).
Members of the CRB spoke about a letter from the city regarding communication between the board and city councilors during their meeting Wednesday, May 1.
CRB members spoke about a letter from the city during their regular meeting Wednesday. The letter regarded communications between the board and City Council. An email chain details a CRB member's struggle to set up a meeting with CPD Chief RaShall Brackney.
CRB member Gloria Beard says a lack of feedback on bylaws from any city official is leading to problems.
“To let us know what we are doing right and, you know, what is wrong with it, because so far we have heard that some stuff might be illegal and we need to know that because we have actually been working really hard with this board because we really want to go forward,” Beard said.
Wednesday, members drafted an email to Vice Mayor Heather Hill, asking for an extension of one month after they receive feedback from City Council, the Charlottesville Police Department, and the city attorney to finish the bylaw process.
Press Release from the CRB:
This is the Charlottesville Initial Police Civilian Review Board's response to the April 26, 2019 Press Release from the City of Charlottesville entitled "Statement on Police Civilian Review Board" and its April 30, 2019 Press Release entitled "Revised Statement on Police Civilian Review Board."
In response to the substance of the Press Releases, the CRB attaches a complete set of email exchanges regarding the setting up of meetings in May and June with the Chief of Police regarding our Memorandum of Understanding. We are providing those emails as an attachment to this Press Release in an effort to be transparent.
Beyond that, CRB wants to move forward with its work. In June and July 2018, the City appointed a group of eight volunteer civilians to undertake the mission of developing a permanent Civilian Review Board. We have taken our charge seriously. The CRB has been working over the past 11 months to develop an oversight model that is reflective of the community's values and needs and that is directly responsive to the City's Resolution for a CRB.
We proposed a model of oversight to City Council including staffed positions for an Independent Police Auditor and an Executive Director of Police Oversight, a budget (backed by extensive research), a mission statement, drafted language regarding the Civilian Board's composition, proposed bylaws, and additional materials.
We are awaiting feedback at this time. Specifically, we have sought feedback from City Council who in turn requested feedback from Legal Aid Justice Center (which was provided last week) and from the Chief of Police. We intend to spend the remainder of our terms working collaboratively with the City to finalize a draft of an ordinance, bylaws, and the remaining organizational materials for Council's consideration. We recognize that it takes time for City staff (including the CPD) and City Council to respond with feedback and we believe they should have the time they need to discuss our proposal and give us substantive input.
Over the past few days, we have received a proposed timeline of the remainder of our work from Vice Mayor Heather Hill, which we appreciate. However, we disagree that her timeline provides adequate time to get the work done in a meaningful, transparent way that incorporates community input and collaborative work with the City. Below is the email that the CRB sent to City Council and City staff members today regarding a proposed timeline and process moving forward:
"Vice Mayor Hill, Thank you for your message. We need and welcome meaningful feedback from the council and we acknowledge that it takes time for you to do that. We agree that a joint work session in May where we could have a collaborative back and forth discussion about the proposed bylaws would be an ideal way to receive that feedback. Otherwise, we have some proposed changes to your timeline and suggested procedure. In order to provide a complete and quality product that the citizens of Charlottesville deserves, we are in need of three things to progress in our work and complete our charge:
1. Meaningful feedback from Council regarding our proposed model,
organizational structure, and bylaws, which we could accomplish at our
work session in May. In particular, the Board requests feedback regarding: (a) any legal concerns to our model; (2) the budgetary proposal; (3) the proposal for two full-time staff members; (4) future CRB members' input into Council's appointment of Board members; (5) a membership that is diverse and well-represented by people from communities that experience disparate policing; (6) the investigative, review, auditing, and community outreach elements of our model; and (7) the need for the Auditor, Executive Director, and the Board to have access to CPD documents and data (subject
to confidentiality agreements to be mutually agreed upon by all parties).
2. Feedback from the CPD regarding our proposed bylaws. They are a critical stakeholder in this process. If the CPD can’t or won’t provide feedback in a timely manner, we need to know that. We know that you have requested a timeline from the CPD regarding their feedback and eagerly await their response to your request.
3. Drafted ordinance language from City Attorney John Blair based on the proposed model we presented to him. (Note: we have been in
communication with Mr. Blair and he has agreed to get us a draft by May 8, 2019).
Given the scope of work that needs to be accomplished once the CRB is in receipt of the critical input listed above, the CRB would need four weeks of time to process this information, conduct additional research if necessary, make any additions and alternations that might be needed, engage with the public, and meet as a board to approve the final materials to be presented to City Council.
So, our proposed timeline is: four weeks after we receive feedback from [C]ouncil, from the CPD, and receive the necessary documents from Mr. Blair, we will
provide you with a final draft of materials. If Council feels the need to provide additional feedback or input, the CRB would be willing and available for another
Joint Session to iron out any final changes. Otherwise, we would present to you our final, agreed-upon proposal at a City Council meeting upon your request.
The CRB requests that each Board Member remain as official CRB members until the completion of this important work. This work cannot be conducted behind
closed doors after the Initial CRB dissolves. Both transparency and the community's input are critical to this mission's success. Because of that, we are willing to continue our work as CRB members for a short, extended period.
We want the community and City to know that we are committed to our role in providing oversight of the Charlottesville Police Department. We have done the
legwork necessary to get to this stage. We do not want to leave this work unfinished.
We look forward to the collaborative process that is necessary to get this over the finish line. We will follow up this email message with some available dates and
work with you to schedule our joint work for May."