Richmond civilian review board plans move forward with amendment change

Published: Sep. 27, 2022 at 7:33 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Richmond Public Safety Standing Committee moved forward with a new proposal to police the police Tuesday afternoon at City Hall.

The proposed eight-member civilian review board (CRB) would give appointed Richmond residents oversight to examine serious cases of police misconduct, officer-involved shootings and allegations of abuse.

But Committee Chair Ann-Frances Lambert now pushed for an additional amendment for the board members to be residents of Richmond for at least five years.

“We have a gun violence problem. We have areas of our city that if you go into them, you better be strapped,” Lambert said. “You need to know the dynamics of this city and the crime that has plagued this city.”

Lambert argues the requirement would help ensure that CRB members are well versed in Richmond’s systemic poverty and crime issues.

But Council Members like Mike Jones thought the change was unnecessary, arguing that the Mayor and City Council got the most recent form of the proposal right.

“This is about finding what is the best things for Richmond residents, and I believe we’ve gotten there,” Jones said.

The CRB proposal advanced with a unanimous vote from the safety committee with the proposed 5-year city residency amendment.

Aside from the amendment to the CRB, the proposal remained essentially unchanged. The board would also be encouraged to request subpoenas from a circuit court judge and make policy recommendations. The proposal includes an over $204,000 budget and a full-time staff member to be hired by City Council.

But even with changes, some groups like the Richmond Transparency and Accountability Project and the Legal Aid Justice Center believe the current proposal does not allow for oversight of the police department budget or lend the group investigative power.

“The investigatory model, which is what people have been asking for, would be completely independent of the police department, so someone who is just been harmed by police could go to another group that isn’t representing the police, then that’s where they could file a complaint, and that body could investigate police if it was warranted,” said Maisie Osteen with the Legal Aid Justice Center.

The CRB goes to the city council during its Oct. 10 meeting, where council members can either vote to pass the CRB with the 5 -year residency requirement or reject it and pass the original CRB proposal without the amendment.