Panel Recommends More Power For CMPD Citizens Review Board

Sep 23, 2013

Attorney Matt Newton calls for "strengthening" CMPD's Citizens Review Board at a rally on Monday.
Credit Julie Rose

Public comment compiled by a task force over the last three months concludes CMPD's Citizens Review Board needs more power to investigate complaints of officer misconduct. A Charlotte City Council's Council-Manager Relations Committee will review the recommendations on Monday.

In the 15 years since Charlotte leaders first created the Citizens Review Board to hear complaints of officer misconduct, it has never ruled against the police.  An investigation by the Charlotte School of Law and subsequent media coverage earlier this year prompted the mayor to establish a task force that would gather public input.

The task force's findings are not surprising: people largely misunderstand – and mistrust – the Citizens Review Board; they want the board to have more power to investigate complaints, subpoena witnesses and have full-blown hearings.

"We're asking for the Citizens Review Board to be strengthened," says attorney Matt Newton, an organizer of a coalition that includes the NAACP and ACLU. "Give it the power to do the job it was put there to do back in 1997."

The Citizens Review Board was formed after a series of police shootings in Charlotte in the late 1990s. The intent was to strengthen public trust in CMPD's ability to police itself. CMPD Chief Rodney Monroe maintains his department does a good job of that and has pushed back against calls for changes to the board. 

Armed with scores of public comments to the contrary from this latest task force report, the city council now takes up the issue at 11:45 a.m. in Room 280 of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Government Center.