Safe Coalition NC scored an important victory in Charlotte, North Carolina. This Monday the city council voted unanimously to accept the coalition’s proposed administrative revisions to the Citizens Review Board. According to Robert Dawkins, Safe Coalition NC’s state organizer and Defending Rights & Dissent Patriot Award recipient, the changes include the following:
- A stated commitment to diversify the board to reflect the city of Charlotte.
- An interview process for potential board members instead of just an endorsement from a city council member.
- Banning all current and former city employees and immediate family from serving on the board.
- Staggered terms for serving on board.
The city council will also start the process of revising the trainings that Citizen Review Board members receive. There is some hope that this will included implicit bias trainings. Dawkins and other Safe Coalition NC activists feel like the training board members currently receive is “heavily police friendly.” They hope this can be offsetted by a training that includes “a history of why minorities do not trust police based on the history of police as oppressors.”
The Charlotte Citizens Review Board
The Citizens Review Board is an important potential tool for police accountability, yet since its formation in 1997 it has never ruled in favor of citizens bringing complaints against the police.
The board recently made headlines when it decided to review a police conclusion that the killing of Keith Lamont Scott by a police officer was justified. In a 8-2 closed door decision, the board determined there was “substantial evidence of error” in the police department’s decision. This does not mean that the board has decided that Scott’s killing was not justified, only that it would hold an evidentiary hearing on the matter. After hearing the evidence the board will decide whether they found the shooting to be justified or not.
Safe Coalition NC
Safe Coalition NC was formed in 2013 to promote police accountability. It led a campaign that resulted in the Charlotte City Council passing a civil liberties resolution based on Defending Rights & Dissent model ordinances. Safe Coalition NC is currently in court attempting to obtain dashcam and body camera footage of the fatal police shooting of Iaroslav Mosiiuk.