City Council members on Monday are expected to consider findings of a long-awaited report on Charlotte’s Citizens Review Board, a police oversight panel that has never in its 16 years sided with citizens.
The board has been under scrutiny since early this year, after an Observer investigation in February found the board is among the weakest in the nation.
But the fatal police shooting of an unarmed man this month brought new attention to the board and its limitations.
The board has no independent power to investigate, and citizens must meet an unusually high standard of evidence for the board to even hold a formal hearing.
Friday’s release of a report by a task force studying the review board disappointed community activists who had hoped for broader recommendations. They plan to push for tougher changes Monday.
“We’re not asking. We’re demanding,” said John Barnette, the founder of True Healing Under God ministry.
City officials have defended the board. They said its findings show the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department conducts thorough investigations and appropriately disciplines officers.
Mayor Patsy Kinsey said she will study the report but cautioned critics that the recent shooting case involving Officer Randall Kerrick has not yet fallen under the oversight of the board.
The board provides a citizen review of complaints about internal affairs investigations into misconduct.
“Although criminal charges have been filed, no personnel decision has been made regarding Officer Kerrick and there is, therefore, nothing for the CRB to review at this time,” Kinsey said in a statement.
Sixteen years ago, the Citizens Review Board was created to restore public confidence in police after three unarmed African-Americans were killed by white officers.
The Observer showed that in 78 cases, the board always sided with police.
Two prominent former Citizens Review Board members – civil rights lawyer George Daly and former Mecklenburg County Commissioners Chairman Harold Cogdell – said the board’s rules mean citizens do not have much chance to win.
A Charlotte School of Law professor who researched the board’s practices also believes that citizens are overmatched by police.
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