Police Civilian Review Board makes progress toward bylaws

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- The Charlottesville Police Civilian Review Board still plans to turn in finalized bylaws to the Charlottesville City Council by the May 1 due date.

A few weeks ago, board member Katrina Turner had met with the interim city manager, Mike Murphy, to request an extension to turn in the bylaws on behalf of the board.

At the meeting Tuesday evening, after laying out dates for drafts to be completed, the board decided that an extension was not needed.

At the meeting, board member Sarah Burke laid out what she called the three "arms" of a bylaws model. She said arm one allows the board to look at complaints and have access to internal affair investigative files to make recommendations. Arm two allows the board to review the complaint process of the police department. Arm three focuses on community and police engagement and outreach.

Burke said getting this far in structuring bylaws for the board has not been easy.

"It's creating an entire department that reviews policies of a department that otherwise doesn't really have a particularly open book in terms of what their process is," she said.

Other potential details of the bylaws were discussed as well, such as whether they can ask the city council to budget a full-time staff member that can oversee the board. Burke said this is only a start.

"We have a lot of things to do before we can actually submit these final bylaws so the idea tonight was to be able to provide a larger scale picture of what the next couple of months will look like for us," said Burke.

The board plans on making drafts, then getting the community, city council, and police department's input in the next two months.

Walter Heinecke, a community member who has been attending the board meetings, said the model laid out surprisingly shows major progress.

"I wasn't actually prepared to see sort of a final draft model today," said Heinecke. "And I was impressed that they had already reviewed over a hundred different models from different communities and they had basically narrowed it down to this one hybrid model."

Burke said their bylaws have the duty of being a guide for future boards to use for their own.

"A board like this is really an iterative process," said Burke. "There's no way to create what this is going to look like in 20 years tomorrow. So what we hope to do is create something that presents a structure for future boards to be able to work within, make changes as they need to moving forward, and address whatever the needs of the community are at the time."

Charlottesville Police Chief RaShall Brackney will be at the next meeting on March 12 to talk about the internal affairs investigative process of the police department.

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