Charlottesville demands an open, public process to set-up its Civilian Review Board!

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Dear Councilors:

On December 18, 2017, Charlottesville City Council, in response to loud and persistent public demands, passed a resolution establishing a Civilian Review Board (CRB) for the Charlottesville Police Department. That resolution included a commitment to host a public forum where community members could, in the presence of City Council, ask questions of CRB applicants. Because the resolution leaves most of the issues about the composition, purpose, and process of the CRB to the initial appointees, the process of selection of its members is a crucial step in its formation.

We understand that an applicant forum has been scheduled for April 24, 2018, from 5 pm – 9 pm. However, the community remains largely in the dark regarding how City Council plans to select the initial CRB members, as no other information about the process has been made public.

In fact, the community has learned that City Council made the closed-door decision to throw out 7 of the 24 applications to serve on the CRB because the applicants do not live within city limits. While we agree that those most directly impacted by institutions and their policies should govern them, this residency restriction was not included in the resolution and was not announced publicly. And the City still has not made public with the names of the candidates that are no longer being considered. Perhaps even worse, the City’s website currently states, “Council is scheduled to consider applicants at their February 20, 2018, closed session meeting."[1] The public has received no information about this.

This lack of transparency and communication regarding the creation of a body whose very purpose is civilian oversight of our government is completely unacceptable. From here forward, City Council must conduct the process for selecting and appointing CRB members in an open and transparent manner (akin to the process recently employed to select the City’s mayor).


We demand that City Council:

  1. Make public the names of the 7 applicants no longer under consideration;
  2. Hold the applicant forum in City Council Chambers where it can be televised and recorded; and
  3. Publicly announce the process City Council will follow, from applicant forum through final appointment.  The process must include Council holding an open, public discussion of who will be appointed to the CRB and why.

City Councilors have all acknowledged the importance of improving the Charlottesville Police Department’s interactions with the community. The City has promised better community engagement. Make that commitment real: provide the foundation on which a meaningful CRB can grow and flourish.

                            Sincerely,

                            Concerned community members

cc:           City Manager, Maurice Jones

[1] http://www.charlottesville.org/departments-and-services/boards-and-commissions/police-civilian-review-board



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