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Civilian Review Board Task Force Hosting Public Town Halls

Downtown headquarters of the Richmond Police Department. (Photo: Crixell Matthews/VPM News)

Richmond’s Task Force for the Establishment of a Civilian Review Board for police misconduct has kicked off a series of town halls where they’ll collect community input.

The task force was established by Richmond City Council last July, but its work was significantly delayed by debates around who should sit on the body. The group began its work in earnest in mid-March and has since outlined how it will operate and put together a $1.2 million annual budget. That proposed budget would fund a director, independent investigators for police misconduct and small stipends for board members. 

But none of that is set in stone, say task force members. 

Erik Nielson, a professor of liberal arts at the University of Richmond and task force member, said the feedback gathered at the town halls will inform their final recommendations to city officials. 

“There are over 100 civilian review boards or these oversight bodies across the country,” he said. “What we are grappling with now is ‘What should this look like for Richmond?’”

At the first town hall meeting on Thursday, the task force outlined the work it had already done and took questions from the community. Members were asked things like whether the civilian review board would address Richmond Police Department’s hiring practices, and whether the board would move beyond police misconduct and investigate systemic issues like civil asset forfeiture.

Resident and community activist Tashabe Scott said she would like to see the civilian review board work on community relations with the police.

“I would definitely like to see the task force be able to build the bridge between the community and the police force, because I don’t want to see us keep being divided like they are on one side and we are on the other,” Scott said. 

The Task Force for the Establishment of a Civilian Review Board is expected to submit a final report to Richmond City Council this summer. City Council will have to turn those recommendations into an ordinance establishing the review board and outlining its functions. 

The task force plans to hold more town halls before then, with the next one tentatively scheduled for some time in June. Updates on future meetings will be available on the task force’s Twitter page here.

Correction: We misspelled Erik Nielson's name. It has been updated.