While America’s First City Council plans to make more changes to the way its citizen-led police watchdog group operates. It gave the group investigative and disciplinary powers. They are no longer among the options being considered.
America’s First City Decide Against Newly Granted Authority from the State
On Tuesday at City Council’s retreat, members with one accord decided they did not want to take the lead of newly-granted authority from the state. This is to give their self-appointed Investigate Review Panel (IRP) the chance to issue irrevocable disciplinary decisions in cases such as where a Virginia Beach Police officer could have abused their authority or thus engaged in misconduct.
The six council members also opted not to explore giving the panel subpoena power in a split decision. Thus, the ability to hire outside legal counsel.
America’s Finest City: Decision not Official Yet
There no formal vote are taking. Yet the decisions themselves are not official. Moreover, considering both proposal have been pushed for strongly by advocates for police reform. On Wednesday, Councilwoman Sabrina Wooten (Centerville) said she believes several will disapprove in regard to the direction of being taken.
“It’s been loud and clear, since the death of George Floyd. I have heard it. I would guess the question is, as a body, are we in fact, listening,” Wooten said.
High-Profile Police-Involved Killings
Since many high-profile police-involving killings in the United States, there has been a debate on how to improve the 30-year-old IRP. This lead to civil unrest last year.
The Current System is Not Working
A former chaplain for VBPD, Wooten, has been outspoken in saying the current system is in fact “not working,” moreover the IRP can only review the internal police department investigations only after they are completed.
Several Panel Policies
Wooten along with council members Louis Jones (Bayside), Aaron Rouse (At-Large), Jessica Abbott (Kempsville) and Guy Tower (Beach) wanted to give the IRP power to dig into police complaints themselves. The city manager has already switched up many panel policies.
Investigative Review Panel
“There is some authority to investigate through the investigatory and subpoena powers of the Investigative Review Panel. Then, they call witnesses, whether it be police officers, or other people involving in a matter, that would give them some type of authority and accountability,” Wooten said.