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City Police CRB getting closer to hiring executive director

Charlottesville Police Civilian Review Board members will participate in an interview of potential hires for the nascent board’s executive director.

In recent months, much of the CRB’s discussions have revolved around the search for an executive director who would help the board with various tasks. The position, which already has been funded, recently was listed on the city’s website. The salary range is $89,247.86 to $137,000.

According to the listing, the executive director will be tasked with “providing functional support and leadership to the new CRB in its aim to implement objective and independent civilian-led oversight of the Charlottesville Police Department.”

During Thursday’s meeting, members received an update on the search from Ashley Marshall, deputy city manager for the city. According to Marshall, more than 60 applications have been received and a “select group” will receive invitations to interviews set for the end of June.

The interviews are expected to go through three rounds, which will allow for each member of the CRB to participate. No more than two members of the board will be in each meeting in order to avoid the interviews becoming subject to open-meetings laws.

CRB Chairman Bellamy Brown will not be a part of the interviews as he is among the applicants seeking the executive director position.

Brown, who recused himself from the portion of the meeting concerning the executive director search, also updated members on complaints received. He said 18 complaints had been received in 2021 so far, and 11 of those have been sent over to the city police. Of those 11, eight are now closed and three remain open. The complaints involve a litany of allegations, including rights violations, racism, police brutality and lack of professionalism.

Cynthia Hudson, counsel for the CRB, also provided an update on where the board stands on the latest draft of proposed hearing changes.

“We’ve incorporated in the latest draft edits that had been proposed by the city attorney, but in addition to that, we added some refinements that address some of the comments that the board received from the People’s Coalition, in particular, in its review of the hearing procedures,” she said. “There is perhaps one other area that was brought up in those comments that we are examining more closely, quite frankly, in the same nature of what’s permissible in terms of the board’s interest in transparency.”

The board also discussed the state of its in-the-works ordinance update, which seeks to expand the CRB’s powers in the wake of a legislative change.

Come July 1, city councils and county boards of supervisors statewide can create police civilian review panels to examine use-of-force complaints and cases of deaths and serious injuries while in custody, among other concerns.

Unlike the current Charlottesville Police Civilian Review Board, which has little power, the law allows panels a variety of investigative powers, including the authority to ask circuit court judges to subpoena records, which was discussed during Thursday’s meeting.

The CRB’s updated ordinance will seek to use this change of law, though a draft of the ordinance has not been formally presented to the public. Members mentioned pressure from the public to “get this wrapped up” soon.

CRB member Bill Mendez recounted some experiences with meetings with the city councilors, specifically on the topic of the board’s ability to conduct investigations. According to Mendez, Councilors Lloyd Snook and Heather Hill appeared against the idea, while Councilor Sena Magill had more practical concerns. Councilor Michael Payne had not shared his thoughts yet, Mendez said.

“At this point, we have gotten not a huge amount of encouragement on the investigative model,” Mendez said.

Brown and Mendez plan to meet with Mayor Nikuyah Walker on Friday and Mendez said he hopes they will find a councilor who will champion the investigative model.


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