Possible changes coming to police review board

Possible changes coming to police review board

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by RAD BERKY / NBC Charlotte

Bio | Email | Follow: @RadBerkywcnc

WCNC.com

Posted on April 1, 2013 at 10:43 PM

Updated Sunday, Oct 20 at 6:02 AM

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The Charlotte City Council took the first step towards making possible changes to the procedures followed by the Citizens Review Board Monday night.

That board was established in 1997 to look into allegations of police misconduct.

But a study done by students at the Charlotte School of Law -- and first reported by the Charlotte Observer -- found that in 16 years, the board has always sided with the police when questions of misconduct by officers have been raised.

Kare Romanski was one of those who wanted to tell her story to the council Monday night.  She went to the board to complain about an officer who she said had been physically abusive toward her.

Romanski said the experience was not what she expected.

"What I found very quickly after being there was that they all know each other and they don't want you to know who they are," Romanski said.

During the hearing, even the board's attorney, Julian Wright, said that for there to be a finding of abuse of discretion is difficult.

"In that kind of a situation, where you are balancing a he-said-she-said, it is clearly not an abuse of discretion to believe one and not believe the other," Wright said.

Chief Rodney Monroe said transparency was key.

"I know myself nor do I believe any other officer with our Internal Affairs staff would do anything that would jeopardize their careers to protect someone who had done something wrong," Monroe said.

The council eventually voted to send the issue to the Council-City Manager Relations Committee for discussion.

"I would like the staff to pay particular attention to the use of that standard," said Mayor Anthony Foxx.

For the law school students, it was a first step towards possible change.

Student Isabell Carson acted as spokesperson for the group.

"The standard found by the study we did at Charlotte School of Law needs to be lowered to a probable cause standard," she said.

Chief Monroe said citizen complaints are actually down but added he favored anything that would make the process as fair as possible.

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