City Council Votes to Establish Independent Citizen Review Panel for Police Oversight

Once new board members are identified and trained, the City Council will consider a resolution to dissolve and replace the current Investigation Review Panel.

On Tuesday, Nov. 16, the Virginia Beach City Council unanimously voted to accept the recommendations of the Citizen Review Panel Task Force to restructure the current Investigation Review Panel into an Independent Citizen Review Board.  

In 2020, the General Assembly passed legislation that granted localities the option to establish a law-enforcement civilian oversight body and to empower the oversight body with certain duties, subject to policies and procedures established by the governing body for the performance of those duties.  

Council Member Sabrina Wooten brought the idea of a task force forward to study the issue and City Council created the Task Force. The task force was charged with studying the following issues and providing a community-informed recommendation: (1) Differences between investigatory power and subpoena power; whether investigatory power can be utilized without subpoena power; (2) purpose and designation of a budget for such a body; (3) impact of a such a body on the Police Department; (4) identify the best citizen review panel model for adoption; and (5) other pertinent topics regarding development of a citizen review panel. Each City Council member selected one representative to serve on the Task Force.

Over the course of more than a dozen meetings and work done by the 11 members of the Task Force (all of which totaled almost 800 hours of volunteer service), the task force reached a unanimous recommendation regarding the establishment of an oversight body for the City, including both proposed duties and the required policies and procedures regarding the performance of those duties. The Task Force presented their recommendations to City Council on Sept. 7, 2021. The Council on Tuesday established an Independent Citizen Review Board and directed the City Manager to move forward with next steps.

The Task Force recommended that the members of the board receive extensive training, and that training is estimated to take a total of 45 hours. Because time will be needed to identify citizens for appointment and for those appointees to receive training, the City's current oversight body, the Investigation Review Panel, will continue to function. Once the new board is fully constituted and the appointees have been trained, the City Council will consider a resolution to dissolve the Investigation Review Panel.

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