RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The task force charged with making recommendations on the creation of a Richmond Civilian Review Board held a town hall on Tuesday night at Diversity Richmond. During the meeting they explained to the public how they’d like the police oversight board to function.
The task force has 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. Their suggested model included giving the board subpoena power and the power to review complaints made prior to the board’s inception.
“This actually has the potential to be something transformative,” said task force co-chair Dr. Eli Coston. Throughout the meeting, they emphasized that the task force doesn’t want to create a body that “doesn’t do very much.”
In order to accomplish these recommendations, the task force envisions an larger office encompassing the review board. The board itself will be comprised of community member volunteers and the office would include a director and other employees to work on investigative, legal and auditing tasks.
The recommendations from the task force will be submitted in a final report on Aug. 31 and the task force plans to present it to Richmond City Council on Sept. 13. It will be up to council members to draft an ordinance laying out what oversight will look like in Richmond.
The task force members said at the meeting that the city council will have the final say and they want community members to voice their support for recommendations to their council representatives.
“We want this to be something that our community wants,” Coston said.
The task force determined their recommendations after surveying community members and conducting a series of meetings and town halls. Tuesday’s town hall drew a small crowd but the survey put out to the community got almost 1,000 responses.
The 925 survey answers will be made public. The task force laid out some key data points gathered from the survey at the town hall.
Just over half of respondents said Richmond needs independent oversight of police, 31% of respondents said the city did not and 15% were undecided.
Survey responses shared by the task force indicated that community members believe that police need to be held accountable to the community. While some survey respondents felt satisfied by the current process of investigating issues through police internal affairs, other said the current policing systems presented systemic issues and a lack of transparency.