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Posted on: December 22, 2021

City Council Establishes Police Civilian Oversight Board (PCOB)

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
DECEMBER 22 2021

City Council strengthens civilian oversight of the Charlottesville Police Department by amending the City Code and establishing the POLICE CIVILIAN OVERSIGHT BOARD (PCOB)


CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA - On Monday, December 20, the Charlottesville City Council unanimously passed amendments that define the structure, powers, and authorities of the newly established Police Civilian Oversight Board (PCOB). This new Board replaces the current Police Civilian Review Board (PCRB). The amendments to the City Code provide the PCOB expanded functions, including the ability to: 

  • receive, investigate, and issue findings on complaints from civilians regarding the conduct of law enforcement officers and civilian employees of the {Police} Department;
  • investigate and issue findings on incidents, including the use of force by a law enforcement officer, death or serious injury to any individual held in custody, serious abuse of authority or misconduct as defined in this section, allegedly discriminatory stops, and other incidents regarding the conduct of law enforcement officers and civilian employees of the {Police} Department;
  • investigate policies, practices, and procedures of the {Police} Department and to make recommendations regarding changes to such policies, practices and procedures;
  • review investigations conducted internally by the {Police} Department; to request reports of the annual expenditures of the Department, and to make recommendations to the City Council concerning future appropriations;
  • direct the Executive Director to conduct retrospective examinations and audits of patterns in Internal Affairs investigations, arrest and detention, and other public-police interactions;
  • make public reports on the activities of the Board, including investigations, hearings, findings, recommendations, determinations, and oversight activities;
  • hold hearings and, if, after making a good faith effort to obtain the voluntary attendance of witnesses and the production of books, papers, and other evidence necessary to perform its duties, the Board is unable to obtain such attendance or production, to apply to the Circuit Court for the City of Charlottesville for a subpoena compelling the attendance of such witness or the production of such books, papers and other evidence;
  • allow the Executive Director to actively monitor all investigations of Complaints of employee misconduct conducted by the {Police} Department and shall have access to records and witnesses to the same extent as the Department;
  • propose procedures for the use of mediation or other alternative dispute resolution techniques to resolve complaints against employees of the {Police} Department.

City Council Memo (PDF): Ordinance Re-enacting the PCRB as a Police Civilian Oversight Board, with expanded functions

The Board’s Executive Director, Hansel Aguilar, noted that, “Charlottesville should be proud of the arduous journey to amend this ordinance. Through this bold action, the City Council established the strongest civilian oversight entity in the Commonwealth. The limited, but growing, jurisdictions around the Commonwealth (and country) that have civilian oversight entities do not have all the features that the PCOB will have. It is also important to note that we are the smallest jurisdiction in the Commonwealth with a police oversight body, which presents unique opportunities and challenges. I am excited to work with the community and our Police Department to demonstrate how we can restore community-police relations through effective and meaningful oversight.”

The proposed ordinance amendments were discussed publicly at several PCRB meetings and at City Council’s December 6, 2021 meeting. For workshopping the document between public meetings, City Councilors appointed a committee consisting of Councilors J. Lloyd Snook and Michael Payne to work alongside PCRB representatives, Vice Chair William “Bill” Mendez and Dr. Jeffrey Fracher.

Mayor Nikuyah Walker commented, “Thank you to the initial and current board members, The People's Coalition, and citizens who participated for their commitment and dedication to establishing the Police Civilian Oversight Board to improve policing in our community. The PCOB presents the opportunity for our community to begin to build a foundation of trust related to citizens' interactions with police officers. The creation of this board is one of the many reforms measures the City of Charlottesville is embarking on to ensure that we are a Just community. The PCOB emphasizes Charlottesville's commitment to ending racism within every facet of our criminal justice system. We have a long road ahead of us, but we're off to a promising start.”

Councilor Payne stated, “I thank the initial PCRB, the People’s Coalition, Mr. Mendez, Councilor Snook, and countless others who helped us pass a strong Police Civilian Oversight Board ordinance. It’s been a long road, but last night was a historic day for police oversight in Charlottesville. The creation of a strong, independent PCOB with investigatory, auditing, and subpoena power will help build trust between the community and the Charlottesville Police Department by providing accountability and civilian oversight.”

Vice Chair Mendez said, “We deeply appreciate the unanimous support of the City Council on this very important initiative, as well as the ongoing support of all the stakeholders who worked so hard getting to this point.” Board Member, Dr. Fracher said, “While I was honored to participate in developing the final draft of the ordinance, both Vice-Chair Mendez and Councilor Snook put in countless hours wrestling the ordinance into a form that was acceptable to both City Council and the PCOB. The ordinance, as written, will serve the betterment of Charlottesville. Thanks to all for the hard work.”

Councilor Snook said, "We have tried, in this ordinance, to balance the interest in strong civilian oversight with the need to have the Police Department run efficiently by professional leadership.  We on Council look forward to the Board get up and running with its new powers."

The proposed Ordinance was reviewed by both the City Attorney and the outside legal counsel for the PCRB. The Ordinance represents many hours of work and collaboration between the City Council committee, the PCRB’s working committee, and community input from individuals and organizations in the City of Charlottesville. The amended ordinance will go into effect March 1, 2022.

Executive Director Aguilar encourages community members to continue to remain engaged in matters concerning police oversight and to visit https://www.charlottesville.gov/1005/Police-Civilian-Review-Board for more information regarding news, updates, and the transformation from the PCRB to the PCOB. 

Media Contact
Joe Rice
Interim Director of Communications
City of Charlottesville
434-970-3707
ricej@charlottesville.gov

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