City leaders hear recommendations for reform of Citizens Review Board

by: Mark Becker Updated:

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. —

A Charlotte task force is recommending a dozen changes to the panel that reviews public complaints against Charlotte Mecklenburg police officers.

The group wants the Citizens Review Board to consider more cases and to have access to the officers who may be the subject of complaints, as well as extending the time that people have to file complaints against officers.

The Citizens Review Board has come under scrutiny since it has sided with police in every case it has reviewed. The fatal shooting on Sept. 14, in which Officer Randall Kerrick is charged with voluntary manslaughter for killing Jonathan Ferrell, 24, has focused more attention on the Review Board and the task force that is proposing the changes.

About 60 people attended the City Council committee meeting Monday where the task force presented its recommendations. Many of them held signs demanding reform of the Review Board process.

"I don't trust anything, because actions speak louder than words," said Sandra Clory, who attended the meeting holding one of those signs clutched to her chest.

City Councilman James Mitchell said he hears the skepticism, and welcomes the recommendations.

"I think the 12 recommendations in my eyes show a modification. I don't want there to be a distrust and I'm hearing loud and clear there is a distrust. We don't need that in our community," he said.

But the Patricia Albritton, chairwoman of the task force who wrote the recommendations, said they are designed to bridge the credibility gap between police and the community.

"Hopefully that will help close that gap of trust," said Albritton.

But the scrutiny is raising questions among some rank and file in the police department who feel the changes may go too far.

"I don't think another review board is what necessary is. We've got what's in place to make sure the community's protected. We just need to exercise it," said Randy Hagler, president of the North Carolina Fraternal Order of Police, which represents more than 6,000 officers around the state.

Hagler said the District Attorney's Office and Civil Service Board already provide oversight of officers.

The City Attorney's Office will put the task force recommendations into the form of an ordinance and the City Council committee is set to review them at their next meeting in October.

A final draft of the proposals would go to City Council in December.

For complete coverage of the CMPD officer involved shooting case click here.