Independent Decision Making Authority
Some cities have review boards that have the independent power to launch their own investigations when necessary. Memphis, for example, can do so in cases involving deadly force or the death or injury of someone in police custody. Other cities, like Baltimore, furnish their boards with a copy of every citizen complaint filed so their boards can decide whether to launch an independent investigation concurrent with the police department’s investigation. Presumably, these systems of oversight provide control over the often incalculable symptoms of over-extended internal affairs divisions, where some complaints inevitably fall through the cracks.
A recent NAACP letter to the City of Charlotte stated that the organization’s Charlotte chapter had fielded well over 200 complaints, in the last two years, from people dissatisfied with our city’s internal affairs process. Most of those were the result of internal affairs not returning citizens’ inquiries and never informing citizens of the outcomes of their complaints. Charlotte needs a system of oversight that ensures that this no longer occurs. Granting the Citizens Review Board independent investigatory power is one way of doing this. CRB Reform Now has chosen to draft a proposed change in the Citizens Review Board ordinance allowing the board discretion in independently determining whether to hear cases that are currently being investigated by internal affairs. Like the oversight systems in place in Memphis and Baltimore, this will help ensure that citizen complaints no longer fall through the cracks.