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Richmond leaders at odds over civilian review board policies

Richmond leaders at odds over civilian review board policies
Posted at 6:20 PM, Mar 22, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-22 18:20:14-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- A proposal by Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney to create a Citizen Review Board for police misconduct cleared a city council committee on Tuesday but also faced pushback from advocates who helped recommend what the board’s powers and formation should look like.

Several members of the CRB Task Force, formed by the city council to make recommendations, asked the committee to vote against the mayor's proposal. They argued the plan’s framework ultimately gives too much control over the CRB’s recommendations to the police department and limited the types of complaints against police the CRB can review.

Under Stoney’s proposal, the CRB would review serious cases of officer misconduct, like officer-involved shootings and deaths in custody, but any policy/disciplinary recommendations made by the CRB would be “non-binding.”

“We feel like it’s a slap in the face,” Teenora Thurston, who worked on the issue, said.

“I find it incredibly disappointing that the mayor's office chose to ignore the Council’s process and undercut it,” said Eli Coston, who worked on the CRB task force.

The mayor's office responded by saying while their proposal differs in scope and authority from the task force’s recommendations, the proposal does keep the board separate from the police department, outside of one member appointed by the police chief, and includes subpoenas power, which state law now allows.

“CRB’s are not meant to be head to head with the police department. That’s not how they’re being established. It’s meant to establish accountability and civilian review,” said Maggie Anderson, the Mayor’s Chief of Staff.

RPD officials said they already have an extensive and detailed internal review process for complaints against officers and misconduct, but RPD leaders said Chief Gerald Smith does back the CRB legislation as an added method of transparency in policing.

Ultimately, the public safety committee advanced the proposal forward with the recommendation to approve. Members said they can still amend the legislation, and it will receive further committee hearings before heading to the full City Council.

“It’s important we make the right decision,” said Councilwoman Ellen Robertson (6th). “What we are about to do is to put a board in place that will make some very significant decisions as it relates to how we deal with any complaints and infractions as it relates to our police department.”

The proposal is set to go before the Governmental and Operations Standing Committee Wednesday afternoon at 2 p.m.

You can read Mayor Stoney’s full proposal here. You can review the CRB Task Force recommendations here.

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