News that no one wants you to know about notoriously drops on Friday afternoons, when reporters and readers are already looking ahead to the weekend. Coincidentally or not, it was Friday afternoon when the City of Charlottesville sent its bizarre press release about the Civilian Review Board, in which it noted that City Council will not extend the terms of any of the existing board members, despite members saying at Tuesday’s meeting that they would likely need more time to discuss their plan for a permanent board.
Reportedly a joint effort from the city and the police department, the release took issue with a board member’s comments about Police Chief RaShall Brackney’s lack of availability, which was reported in The Daily Progress on Wednesday. (On April 30, the city sent a second release, retracting its previous blaming of the CRB member and redirecting its ire at the Daily Progress). But the attached emails make it pretty clear that, regardless of the nuances, scheduling a necessary meeting with Brackney has been difficult.
The CRB has had an uneasy relationship with the city since its inception, when City Council failed to appoint candidates who had received the most community support (one of those candidates, Rosia Parker, was later added after an uproar).
But as our columnist Molly Conger noted last week, the board’s mission—to provide an independent means of processing and investigating complaints against the police department—is essential.
As Legal Aid community organizer Harold Folley told us, commenting on the low turnout at a forum on the criminal justice system, many residents “just feel like nothing’s going to change.”
Re-establishing trust between residents and the police will require rising above petty squabbles and making a real effort to prioritize the creation of a functioning Civilian Review Board. In a community where so many are invested in helping others, we can do better. —Laura Longhine