The RPA-led City Council majority declined to accept the grant, instead questioning the expenditure of the City’s matching funds and requesting more information. The matter, which has already been held over once, was held over again to a future meeting. Next time you wonder why we don’t have more police patrolling your neighborhood, call the Richmond Progressive Alliance.
Also last night, an amended Police Commission Ordinance was agendized for a second reading and adoption. Among other things, the amended ordinance would take care of all the criticisms of how the Pedie Perez death was handled. You may recall that the Perez family filed a late complaint and the Police Commission Investigative Officer declined to allow it – all in accordance with the provisions of the existing ordinance. The amended ordinance extended to time to file a complaint from 45 days to 120 days and gave the Police Commission the authority to consider a late complaint instead of the investigative officer.
Instead of passing the amended ordinance, the RPA-led City Council majority started over again with a new first reading of the ordinance, adding back in the option for a full Police Commission direct investigation of any complaint. This means that any complaint will be investigated at least twice (Internal Affairs and Police Commission Investigative Officer) and possibly a third time by the full Police Commission, adding costs and requiring substantial time commitments from a volunteer Police Commission.
I just don’t understand why the RPA is obsessed with creating the most rigorous and active Police Commission in the United States. As former Police Chief Chris Magnus wrote:
I can say with absolute confidence that NO other cities are following this model. It seems that no finding will suit the agenda some folks have unless it validates their preconceived notions about how that incident occurred. This has nothing to do with fairness or independence, but rather is entirely political. There are so many ways meaningful civilian oversight could be better achieved, but this is a huge step backwards for a city that could do so much better.
Casting suspicion on the Richmond Police Department and tying up City staff, City Resources and Police Commission members in endless hearings that aren’t even generated by complaints is a diversion that this City simply does not need right now. Other than the Pedie Perez matter, which has consumed the RPA for well over a year, the number of complaints filed with the Police Commission has dwindled to one a year. From listening to the RPA, you would think that we are awash in complaints and in a law enforcement abuse crisis mode. The Richmond Police Commission is short on members now, and it is always a challenge to recruit new members. This will get even more challenging when prospective commissioners find out that serving may be more like continuous jury duty than simply meeting once a month.