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Community weighs in on civilian review board to oversee the Richmond Police Department

Richmond Police Cruiser Classic Day Crime Generic
Posted at 11:35 PM, Jun 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-09 15:08:07-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- In their first in-person town hall meeting since formation, a group of nine task force members worked to determine what a civilian review board to oversee the Richmond Police Department should look like Tuesday.

Dozens gathered at Diversity Richmond for a public meeting to weigh in.

The biggest questions presented to those in attendance were about what the citizen review board would look like, what types of complaints it would accept, what powers it would have and what the composition of the board would be.

Eli Coston, Co-Chair of the task force, said they planned to look at best practices from other jurisdictions and get community and police input, before presenting a recommendation to the city council in August.

Retired Richmond Police Officer, Glenwood Burley, was serving on the Mayor's Task Force. He said the city had a respected police department for decades.

"Stop the exodus of the police officers leaving our department," said Burley. "We’re well close to 100."

Burley urged members to reconsider developing a civilian review board altogether, saying it's not needed.

"Their spirit is broken," Burley said. "Their self-pride in being a police officer is questioned."

But Attorney and former Virginia Army National Guard, Jarrod Blackwood, said on June 2 he watched as RPD officers tear-gassed a group of peaceful protestors without warning.

"To have my rights violated by the Richmond Police Department, my right to peacefully protest, my right to speak, I cannot tell you how much that hurt me to the core," said Blackwood.

Since then, Blackwood said he filed a FOIA request to determine which officers were there, and even got a team of attorneys to request that information.

"We’re here now over a year after that event and I still have no information about which police officers did what," Blackwood said.

Blackwood believed the task force should be able to investigate complaints separate from the Police Department's internal affairs.

"If you are doing your job right if you are doing what you're supposed to be doing, why would have any fear whatsoever of a CRB? Nothing will happen," Blackwood said.

Others at the meeting said they believed the civilian review board should be made up of those impacted most by policing like black and brown residents and community members in public housing.

No members of the Richmond Police Department were in attendance Tuesday, although Coston said they'd been invited.

However, the task force planned to hold a public virtual meeting Wednesday, in which the Richmond Police Department was expected to present information on what goes into their current review process.