12 changes suggested for police oversight board

12 changes suggested for police oversight board

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by BEN THOMPSON / NBC Charlotte

Bio | Follow: @BenTNews | Email

WCNC.com

Posted on September 23, 2013 at 6:32 PM

Updated Monday, Sep 23 at 6:40 PM

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- A task force charged with assessing the performance of Charlotte's Citizens Review Board announced 12 recommendations Monday.

The C.R.B. had come under scrutiny recently.  In its 15 year history overseeing C.M.P.D. discipline complaints, it's held few official complaint hearings, and sided with police in every case. 

The recommendations come after several public hearings, and will require the approval of Charlotte City Council.

"It's not that the C.R.B. went off & created their own recommendations. It really is based on feedback from the public, and that's why I feel very comfortable with the recommendation," said Patricia Albritton, co-chair of the task force. 

Task force members say the changes will make it easier for a person filing a complaint against an officer to navigate the appeals process.  Included in the recommendations are increased transparency through a website and information broadcast on the government channel, an increased period to appeal from 7 days to 21, and a lower standard of review.

"About 80-percent of what was asked for, has been recommended," said Alan Adler, C.R.B. member

But not everything hoped for by supporters of reform was recommended Monday.  The task force did not suggest giving independent investigative or subpoena powers to the C.R.B.  The city attorney said in a presentation such proposal would require the approval of the North Carolina General Assembly.

"I'm relieved some modifications are being made.  I'm disappointed that the subpoena & investigative powers being denied," said Kare Romanski, who unsuccessfully tried to get a complaint hearing in front of the C.R.B.

"In my case, that's what I needed," she said.

A September 14 officer-involved fatal shooting of an unarmed man sparked even more debate about the board's role. Officer Randall Kerrick is charged with voluntary manslaughter, after police say he shot Jonathan Ferrell 10 times. 

"In the wake of the tragic events of last week, it has given us all an opportunity to build consensus, and move forward as a community," said Matt Newton of C.R.B. Reform Now.  Newton's been pushing for change to the board for months.

The C.R.B. is not currently, nor will it likely ever hear the Kerrick case.  Already a criminal investigation, the case doesn't fall under the purview of the C.R.B., which oversees complaints about C.M.P.D. discipline.  Kerrick was charged and arrested within hours of the shooting.

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