VB City Council unanimously approves creation of citizen review board

Originally published 11/15/21 by Alex Littlehales (WVEC), Angelique Arintok on 13newsnow.com

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — The Virginia Beach City Council unanimously approved the plan to form an Independent Citizen Review Board Tuesday night.

The vote comes after a task force spent months researching and coming up with recommendations for improved police oversight.

This civilian-based body will reshape how the city investigates possible police misconduct by investigating and reporting on the use of force, death or serious injury, and serious abuse of authority.

This civilian board would replace the city’s current Investigation Review Panel, also known as IRP. 

Here are some of the main takeaways for the Citizen Review Board, from a task force presentation this September: 

  • 11 voting members, 2 non-voting members 
  • 3-year terms, no more than 1 consecutive term
  • Membership shall reflect the diversity of the City’s population
  • At least two members of the Board shall be under 40 years of age
  • Creation of a Board Coordinator, who may monitor investigations, conduct trend analysis, and coordinate community outreach
  • The Board shall have unfettered authority to conduct an independent review of any citizen complaint investigation, internal investigation or police policy procedure
  • The Board may self-initiate an independent review of any completed Internal Affairs investigation into any incident that rises to their attention
  • The Board Coordinator may request from the Board an application for a Subpoena a Circuit Court Judge.
  • Must demonstrate necessity, obtain a legal review, affirmative vote of at least 8 members.

The biggest change for the ICRB is subpoena power, which the city’s current IRP doesn’t hold. 

“We have a crisis in public trust right now,” Susan Loesberg said, a Virginia Beach resident and co-chair of the local Moms Demand Action chapter, who’s spoken in support of the Review Board at previous meetings. 

“It signals that Virginia Beach is starting to listen to its citizens. But it also is going to signal that we have a long way to go,” Gary McCollum said.

He is president of the organization “Due The Right Things” and has spoken in support of the Review Board, too. 

“We believe it’s a good first step, but there are three areas we believe where it falls short.”

McCollum told 13News Now there are still three changes he hopes the city will work to make:

1. The board should be empowered to select its own coordinator without oversight by the City Manager.

2. Requesting a subpoena should require only a simple majority vote of the board.

3. The board should be empowered to make specific disciplinary recommendations to the City Manager.

Virginia Beach officials say the city’s current review panel would remain in place until this new body is fully trained.

Read the full story on 13NewsNow.com

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