No police review board can fulfill it’s potential without transparency. That’s because every review board is tasked with the job of providing independent police accountability for the sake of maintaining the public’s faith and trust in their local police force. Unfortunately, this endeavor is meaningless if the public is unaware of what their review board is doing.
The fact that review boards serve such a vital role in maintaining public trust is not lost on our very own Chief of Police. A February 17, 2013 Charlotte Observer article, entitled 0-78, quotes Police Chief Rodney Monroe as stating that “[t]he employees of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department have important responsibilities and duties as public servants and must always strive to preserve the public’s trust. This group of independent members of the [Citizens Review Board] is a tremendous asset to our community and serves a critical role in maintaining that trust.” This sentiment is echoed by a November 2000 article prepared by The International Association of Chiefs of Police, entitled Police Accountability and Citizen Review, which states that “citizens review promises many benefits of incalculable value including improved citizen-police relationships, bridge-building among community and police, and enhanced trust in police actions and strategies.”
Of course, this is all for nothing if the public does not have access to what their review board has done, what it is doing, and who is on it. That’s why most review boards across the country maintain websites with reports for what their respective boards have done and what their respective boards are doing. Many also include biographies for those citizens who sit on their boards. Examples of this include New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Philadelphia, among others. Links to multiple board websites can be found below.
CRB Reform Now recognizes that review board transparency is essential in maintaining the public’s trust in Charlotte’s police force. We, therefore, call on our city government to create a website exclusively for our Citizens Review Board, with board member biographies included. We have also included language in our proposed ordinance requiring quarterly reports, which are to be posted on the Board’s website. Much of the ideas and language in CRB Reform Now’s proposed changes to our city’s ordinance was gathered from the review boards of Chicago, San Francisco, and San Diego.