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Richmond NAACP push for changes to mayor’s proposed police reform legislation

Published: Mar. 15, 2022 at 11:25 PM EDT|Updated: Mar. 15, 2022 at 11:26 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Just one day after Mayor Levar Stoney unveiled his proposal for a long-awaited civilian review board, the Richmond NAACP pushed back with its own recommendations for what that review board needs to accomplish. They want their voices heard before the city council discusses it later this month.

“We’re not anti-police, but in the climate that we’re in because of all that is going on in the country, we do believe that we need to put some other mechanisms in place so that there are some checks and balances in place,” said Chapter president J.J. Minor.

The branch’s other suggestions include the following:

  • Must be independent and have the power to conduct hearings.
  • Subpoena witnesses report findings and recommendations to the public.
  • The civilian review board should not be housed in police headquarters.
  • Independently investigate issue findings on complaints.
  • Spot problem policies and provide a forum for developing policies.
  • Review Board must have complete access to police witnesses and documents through the legal mandate and subpoena power.
  • Publish statistical data which details numerous complaints.
  • Must have the capacity to compel prosecutors to bring charges against police officers.
  • The board and staff should be reflective of the ethnic make-up of the community.
  • The Review Board must consistently be adequately funded.

But Mayor Stoney’s office says many of the NAACP’s recommendations are already included in the Mayor’s initial proposal and also clarified that no location has been specified for the CRB.

Additionally, Stoney’s office says only a circuit court judge has the authority to issue a subpoena in Virginia, and that the CRB, similar to a commonwealth attorney, must seek approval from a circuit judge to have that subpoena issued.

“The CRB is not a law enforcement agency. It is an independent, civilian advisory board empowered to review and investigate specific cases,” a spokesperson for the mayor said. “We are grateful for the NAACP’s advocacy and commitment to the success of our first-ever CRB.

But Minor says the NAACP still takes issue with the proposed funding of the board which he says would need to be consistently and adequately funded to operate successfully.

Under the mayor’s recommendation, the CRB would be maintained with a budget of just over $204,000, of which its seven members would receive a 1,200 stipend for their efforts. Minor says that’s not enough.

“$1,200 as an annual stipend, I think we as Richmonders can do better than that,” Minor said.

The Mayor’s office believes the operating budget listed in the proposal would be enough to adequately fund the CRB, but those dollars are always subject to change as the CRB is developed.

Members of the city council and the mayor’s office are expected to meet next week during a government operations meeting to discuss the proposal.

“I hope that they will be able to add some of what the NAACP has in place... and add it to his proposal. We definitely need a balance there, and right now, I don’t think there’s enough meat in the proposal,” Minor said.

Minor says the CRB shouldn’t just stop with the city. He says the Richmond NAACP wants to see the same thing implemented at the state and federal levels.

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