Richmond civilian review board will no longer have police appointee

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — In a new proposal unveiled Monday night, Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney announced a modified proposal to form a civilian review board, which would no longer have any members appointed by the chief of police.

“This new proposal reflects a collaborative effort with members of City Council and I greatly appreciate their critical insight,” said Mayor Stoney. “The result is a CRB that will be equipped to respond to the needs of our community, ensure accountability and enhance the public safety of all Richmond residents.”

If the mayor’s recommendation is adopted, the review board will have eight members, four appointed by the mayor and four appointed by the city council. The new proposal also doubles the stipend paid to board members, from $1,200 to $2,400 a year, and eliminates a five-year residency requirement.

But there are also some things that haven’t changed. The board will still have the power to issue subpoenas and hire independent investigators — and will still be limited to an advisory role.

As the mayor’s press release notes, the board will “make policy, procedure, and disciplinary recommendations” — but the final decision on those recommendations will remain with the chief of police, mayor and city council.

According to the mayor’s office, the proposal has the support of four of the city council’s nine members — Councilman Michael Jones, Councilwoman Ann-Frances Lambert, Councilwoman Stephanie Lynch, and Councilman Andreas Addison.

“I am excited that we are moving forward with a CRB proposal that took into consideration many voices from the community,” said Councilwoman Lambert. “Establishing the first CRB is an historic moment for Richmond.”

The proposal falls short of recommendations made by the city council’s own task force on forming a civilian review board. That task force called for the CRB to have binding disciplinary powers and the ability to audit the police budget and make spending recommendations. Neither of those powers was included in the proposal presented Monday.

The Richmond Police Department has faced heavy criticism over the past few years, from scrutiny over its improper use of tear gas during 2020’s George Floyd protests to a manslaughter charge in a crash that killed two teens to lingering questions over a purported mass shooting plot.

If the proposal is approved, the city council would be responsible for hiring a full-time staffer to jump-start the process of forming the CRB.

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