by Michael Lowrey
The Charlotte Observer has a length piece out on the city’ Citizens Review Board. The board is literally worse than useless — over 15 years, it has never found a case of police misconduct. Public claims of misconduct have been dismissed in all 78 cases brought before the board. The board’s structure, the Observer writes, makes it difficult for citizens even to get a hearing, as they lack access to internal affairs summary of cases. The review board also lacks investigative powers. A highlight:
Don Luna, coordinator for the Police Civilian Review Commission in St. Paul, Minn., expressed amazement that no appeals before Charlotte’s review board have been successful.
“How can you get complaints and have none substantiated?” he asked. “I just don’t know how that’s possible. Everybody makes mistakes.”
True enough. And exactly from that comes the danger of having a review board whose setup makes it extremely unlikely to ever side against police. It’s the danger of essentially believing your own press, that because the (inherently flawed) review board is finding no misconduct, that thus no misconduct exists. Some city officials are falling into this trap:
City Council member Patrick Cannon, who pushed for the creation of the board in the 1990s, said he isn’t bothered that the board has never ruled against CMPD. Cannon said he believes the panel looks at cases objectively.
“I would like to believe we have officers who conduct themselves in a better fashion” than police in other cities, Cannon said.