Group tapped to design Richmond police civilian review board holds first in-person town hall

Richmond

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC)—The task force formed to design Richmond’s Civilian Review Board held its first in-person town hall for residents on Tuesday night.

The meeting started at 6 p.m. at Diversity Richmond.

The nine-member task force was tapped to design the city’s oversight board to handle complaints against officers. The taskforce will establish recommendations for what powers and structure the board would have.

Currently, the Richmond Police Department handles its own internal investigations of conduct. 

City council members approved an ordinance last summer to form a civilian review board following the death of George Floyd and the protests against social injustice.

At the meeting, Richmond residents questioned how the city should create the review board and provided comments on if they supported or opposed the board.

Jarrod Blackwood, an attorney, was among the 30 people at the town hall. 

“We cannot wait for something to go through internal affairs,” Blackwood said.

Along with most of the other speakers, Blackwood spoke in support of the review board. Few other attendants spoke against the board’s role.

“If you are doing what you were supposed to be doing, why would you have any fear whatsoever of a CRB?” Blackwood questioned.

One speaker that did raise questions about the board’s role was Retired officer Glenwood Burley.

“Let’s rebuild the shattered image of Richmond’s finest,” Burley said, “because we as the citizens of Richmond deserve no less.”

Donte McCutchen, the pastor of Love Cathedral Community Church, told 8News earlier on Tuesday that he planned to attend the town hall.

“My faith calls me here, my blackness calls me here and my residency calls me here. So I’ll be at that meeting tonight,” he said.

McCutchen says he had a recent interaction with police officers while sitting in his church parking lot. The pastor tells 8News that five squad cars entered the lot and officers began to harass him.

He says he decided to attend the meeting to call people with integrity to hold the police department accountable.

“My concern when I think about the board having the power that it should have is that if we give them too much power but the wrong people are on the seat we’re still going to be in trouble,” McCutchen said.

In addition to reviewing police conduct, task force co-chair Dr. Eli Coston says the review board could also look at department protocols. Coston says the board could examine whether a policy was in line with best practices.

“For example, gathering community input on those policies and procedures, and then suggesting revisions,” Coston said.

There was not a representative from the Richmond Police Department at the town hall.

City council is expected to receive the review board recommendation in August and then eventually vote on what powers the board will have.

Meanwhile, Bryant Lewis who lives in Henrico was disappointed when county leaders scrapped plans for their civilian review board because of the lack of support.

However, he hopes Richmond will continue to give the community a voice.

“The goal is to try to prevent any sort of situation like what we saw in other parts of the country,” Lewis said. “Where if God forbid something happens the people feel like they do not have a voice.”

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