Charlottesville City Council has decided not to interview candidates for the Police Civilian Review Board next week, effectively placing the panel’s composition in the hands of a new council.
The council notified the 14 applicants on Thursday that it will not conduct interviews at its meeting on Monday as previously planned.
According to the email sent to applicants, the council plans to announce next steps during its meeting on Monday.
The email didn’t indicate why the interview process is delayed, only saying that all applicants remain under “serious consideration.”
Councilor Wes Bellamy wrote in a text message that “We are looking to have a more diverse crop of applicants that represent the different populations that we outlined.”
The council approved the ordinance and bylaws for the police oversight panel in November amid public outcry that the final structure was too weak. Community members were frustrated with several departures from the recommendations of an initial panel, which worked from August 2018 to July 2019, and created a draft of the bylaws eventually approved by the council.
The board’s purpose is to improve trust between the Charlottesville Police Department and the community in the aftermath of the deadly 2017 Unite the Right rally.
The board will include seven voting panelists and one nonvoting member.
Four of the voting members must meet certain guidelines and it’s unclear if the applicants meet those criteria. Applicants used the standard application for city boards and commissions and didn’t differentiate which seat they might qualify for.
Three people will be appointed from a historically disadvantaged community or will live in public housing.
One member will represent a racial or social justice organization. The person who represents a racial or social justice organization can live or work in the city. All other board members must be city residents.
The nonvoting member will be someone who has policing expertise or experience, according to board documents.
Members cannot be city employees, candidates for public office, former Charlottesville Police Department employees or immediate family members of an employee of a current law enforcement agency.
The applicants are Lucas Beane, Bellamy Brown, Nancy Carpenter, Stuart Evans, Elliott Harding, Vicki Hawes, Kevin Healy, Jaree Magee, Jehu Martin, William Mendez, John Pfaltz, Claudia Sencer, Anthony Wasch Jr. and James Watson.
Brown, who served in the U.S. Marine Corps, finished fourth in a six-way race for the City Council in November, running as an independent. Harding, an attorney, unsuccessfully challenged Virginia Sen. R. Creigh Deeds, D-Bath, in the 25th Senate District in November’s election.
On Wednesday, the People’s Coalition contacted the council and said it was “concerned” about the applicant pool.
The People’s Coalition asked the council to extend the application deadline into January.
“It is worth it to extend the deadline to January to have an applicant pool that reflects the spirit of the ordinance and the entire Charlottesville community,” Harold Folley of the People’s Coalition wrote in an email. “We are concerned that if we don’t get this process right, it may exacerbate mistrust between the community and the Charlottesville Police Department.
Monday is the last council meeting for Wes Bellamy, Mike Signer and Kathy Galvin. In January, they will be replaced by Sena Magill, Michael Payne and Lloyd Snook.