RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Mayor Levar Stoney has announced his proposal for the first Richmond Civilian Review Board (CRB) of the Richmond Police Department, to be seen by City Council.
The Citizen Review Board proposed by Stoney would not have subpoena power, and would need to request subpoenas from a Circuit Court judge.
The board would also not have the power to impose direct punishments but would be authorized to “examine serious cases of police misconduct, officer-involved shootings and allegations of abuse following internal police investigations” and then send their recommendations on course of action to the Chief of Police.
In Stoney’s proposal, the seven-member board would be able to hire outside investigators, and “upon reaching a finding” would be able to give policy, procedural, and nonbinding recommendations to the chief, who would then give the board a written response.
While the release states that Stoney’s proposal reflects input from the City Council Task Force for the Establishment of a Civilian Review Board and the Mayor’s Task Force on Reimagining Public Safety, as well as recommendations from Dr. William Pelfrey’s report to the Mayor and Council, presented in February 2022, the proposal introduced Monday night is heavy on concepts taken from Dr. Pelfrey’s report given in Feb.
The task force recommended that the potential civilian review board should be able to receive and investigate complaints, make binding disciplinary decisions, review police policy and make new recommendations, audit police data and create public reports, and review the Richmond Police Department budget and make budgetary recommendations. The task force has previously emphasized they don’t want to create a body that “doesn’t do very much.”
“This actually has the potential to be something transformative,” said task force co-chair Dr. Eli Coston.
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Their suggested model included giving the board subpoena power and the power to review complaints made prior to the board’s inception. Stoney’s proposal would give a greatly diminished amount of authoritative action available to the review board in comparison to the task force’s recommendations.
The recommendations given by Pelfrey were that subpoena power would be exercised following a majority vote, and that the request would come from a city attorney to then be reviewed by an objective judge.
“Most civilian review board outcomes are advisory to a police chief, and that’s the norm, and the police chief can use that recommendation in conjunction with the outcome from the internal affairs investigation,” Pelfrey said. “If the civilian review board believes that the internal affairs investigation was not legitimate or the outcome was inappropriate, then, they’ll make a different recommendation to the chief, and the chief can factor that into his or her decision-making.”
He added that although the board would have authority to make recommendations based on oversight of cases, Pelfrey did not recommend that the group should have final authority over discipline for police officers– all points that were also seen in Stoney’s proposal.
The mayor’s proposal also included providing individual members with “diversity, equity and inclusion” training as well as a $1,200 annual stipend. The proposal also included a $204,199 budget for the board as a whole.