Charlottesville City Council Creates Civilian Police Oversight Board

By on December 25, 2021 0
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Charlottesville City Council unanimously passed amendments that define the structure, powers and authorities of the new Civilian Police Oversight Council.

This new board replaces the current Civilian Police Review Board. Changes to the city code provide the PCOB with extended functions, including the ability to:

  • receive, investigate and publish findings on complaints from civilians regarding the conduct of law enforcement officers and civilian employees of the {police} department.
  • investigate and make findings on incidents, including the use of force by a law enforcement officer, death or serious injury to any detained person, serious abuse of authority or misconduct such as defined in this section, allegedly discriminatory arrests and other incidents concerning the conduct of law enforcement officers and civilian employees of the {police} department.
  • investigate the policies, practices and procedures of the {police} department and make recommendations regarding changes to such policies, practices and procedures.
  • review internal investigations carried out by the {police} department; request reports on the department’s annual expenditures and make recommendations to city council regarding future allocations.
  • direct the executive director to conduct retrospective reviews and audits of trends in internal affairs investigations, arrests and detentions, and other police-public interactions.
  • report publicly on the activities of the Commission, including inquiries, hearings, findings, recommendations, decisions and monitoring activities.
  • hold hearings and, if, after making good faith efforts to obtain the voluntary appearance of witnesses and the production of books, documents and other evidence necessary for the performance of its functions, the Commission is not in a position to obtain such an appearance or production, to apply to the Circuit Court of the city of Charlottesville for a subpoena requiring the appearance of such a witness or the production of such books, documents and other evidence.
  • allow the Executive Director to actively monitor all investigations of employee misconduct complaints conducted by the {Police} department and must have access to records and witnesses to the same extent as the department.
  • propose procedures for the use of mediation or other alternative dispute resolution techniques to resolve complaints against employees of the {Police} department.

Memo from the municipal council: Ordinance reconstituting the PCRB as a civilian supervisory board of the police, with extended functions

Council Executive Director Hansel Aguilar noted that “Charlottesville should be proud of the arduous journey to amending this ordinance. With this bold move, City Council established the most powerful civilian oversight body in the Commonwealth. The limited, but growing, jurisdictions around the Commonwealth (and country) that have civilian oversight entities do not have all of the characteristics that the PCOB will have. It is also important to note that we are the smallest jurisdiction in the Commonwealth with a police oversight body, which presents unique opportunities and challenges. I am excited to work with the community and our police service to demonstrate how we can restore community-police relationships through effective and meaningful oversight. “

The proposed changes to the ordinance were publicly discussed at several PCRB meetings and at the December 6 city council meeting. To prepare the document between public meetings, city councilors appointed a committee of Councilors J. Lloyd Snook and Michael Payne to work alongside representatives of the PCRB, Vice President William “Bill” Mendez and Dr. Jeffrey Fracher.

Mayor Nikuyah Walker commented, “Thank you to the initial and current members of the Board of Directors, the People’s Coalition and the citizens who participated for their commitment and dedication to establishing the Civilian Police Oversight Council to ” improve police services in our community. The PCOB presents the opportunity for our community to begin to build a foundation of trust related to citizen interactions with police officers. The creation of this council is one of many reform measures the City of Charlottesville is taking to ensure that we are a just community. The PCOB underscores Charlottesville’s commitment to ending racism in all facets of our criminal justice system. We have a long way to go, but we are off to a promising start.

Councilor Payne said: “I thank the original PCRB, the People’s Coalition, Mr. Mendez, Councilor Snook and countless others who helped us pass a strong Civilian Police Oversight Board ordinance. It’s been a long road, but last night was a historic day for police surveillance in Charlottesville. Creating a strong and independent PCOB with investigative, auditing and subpoena power will help build trust between the community and the Charlottesville Police Department by ensuring accountability and civilian oversight.

Vice President Mendez said, “We deeply appreciate the unanimous support of City Council for this very important initiative, as well as the continued support of all the stakeholders who have worked so hard to make it happen. “Board member Dr Fracher said:” While I was honored to participate in the development of the final version of the ordinance, Vice President Mendez and Councilor Snook have Spent countless hours preparing the ordinance in a form acceptable to both city council and the PCOB. The ordinance, as written, will serve the improvement of Charlottesville. Thanks everyone for the hard work.

Councilor Snook said, “We have attempted in this ordinance to balance the interest of strict civilian oversight with the need to have the police service effectively managed by professional leadership. We, the members of the Council, look forward to the Council being operational with its new powers. “

The proposed order has been reviewed by both the city prosecutor and the external legal advisor of the PCRB. The ordinance represents many hours of work and collaboration between the city council committee, the PCRB working committee and the community contribution of individuals and organizations in the city of Charlottesville. The amended ordinance will come into effect on March 1.

Aguilar encourages community members to stay engaged in matters relating to police surveillance and to visit for more information on news, updates and transformation of PCRB into PCOB.

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