The newly minted chairman of Charlottesville’s Police Civilian Review Board is seeking the board’s paid executive director position.
Bellamy Brown, who ran an unsuccessful bid for the City Council in 2019, was voted chairman of the CRB during the board’s February meeting. Brown replaced James Watson, who opted not to serve as chairman for a second term.
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 annual salary is listed as falling between $89,247.86 and $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.”
Under supervision of the city manager, the executive director will work with the CRB to “enhance transparency and trust, to promote fair and effective policing, and to protect the civil and constitutional rights of citizens, including marginalized groups and those disproportionately affected by police activities.”
The position is appointed by the city manager, upon a majority vote of the City Council.
As the board reached the part of its meeting Thursday updating the search to fill this position, Brown recused himself from the conversation, citing his intent to apply for the position. Vice Chairman Bill Mendez took over and told the other members that the position had recently been posted to the city’s job site and would remain online for 30 days. So far no one has applied for the position.
Board member Nancy Carpenter urged the board to appoint members Jeffrey Fracher and Deirdre Gilmore to sit in on interviews for the position, as was done during a previous and unsuccessful search.
“I think it’s important that the composition should be the same as last time, one male and one female, in order to facilitate that type of representation,” she said.
Mendez agreed with Carpenter’s suggestion but clarified he did not expect any interviews to happen before the board’s May meeting.
The CRB is also seeking to fill a vacancy on the board but has not received any applications, according to Acting City Attorney Lisa Robertson. The current posting is set to expire Monday and is for a position representing a traditionally marginalized community.
Councilor Michael Payne, who was present at Thursday’s meeting, said the City Council remains committed to filling the vacancy promptly.
Mendez also updated members of the board about a conversation held earlier this week with RaShall Brackney, the city’s police chief, about changes to the board’s ordinance that would expand its powers.
The conversation was generally productive, he said, though Brackney did push back at the idea that the CRB should have access to all internal affairs complaints.
“We certainly didn’t agree on everything, but it was a good and respectful conversation which I think bodes well for our future work together,” he said.
Come July 1, city councils and county boards of supervisors statewide can create 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. Following a call for transparency during public comment, members indicated they will likely share a draft of the ordinance with the public soon.