A Civilian Review Board for the People
Give the Community the Power to Hold Police Accountable: We Need a People’s Civilian Review Board, Not the Alder’s CRB

For the last 21 years, since Malik Jones was killed by East Haven Police Officers only two blocks away from his home in New Haven, the people of New Haven have called on the leaders in their city to create an effective Civilian Review Board that would give residents the ability to hold police accountable for their violence and misconduct. In 2013, over 71% of local residents voted for, and passed, an ordinance that would require the city to establish a Civilian Review Board that would institute mechanisms for “fair, independent, complete, and transparent review of civilian complaints of alleged police misconduct.”

The community stands here today, five years after the Charter revision, still being denied such a Civilian Review Board. In failing repeatedly to create such an oversight body, the city has actively disregarded the will, the safety, and the deepest vulnerabilities of its residents and is in violation of its own laws.

Currently, the Board of Alders is attempting to push through an “Alder’s” Civilian Review Board that mirrors Mayor DeStefano’s failed proposal of 2001, which created a toothless Civilian Review Board--one that would exist in name only and have no real power to hold police accountable--that was eventually abandoned. The current Civilian Review Board proposal by the Board of Alders is willfully blind to the failures of the past. It continues to ignore the needs of New Haven Residents, it continues to fail the basic requirements of the city’s Charter, and it continues to be shaped by the needs of the Police Union rather than the needs of New Haven communities. The Alder’s Civilian Review Board proposal is dangerous. If passed into law, it will make those most vulnerable even less protected from police because it will give the appearance of more protection for civilians, yet those harmed by police will still not have access to a fair investigatory and disciplining process for police misconduct. We cannot continue this failed experiment, the lives of our communities are on the line.

We must fight to transform the current proposal--From the Alder’s CRB to the People’s CRB.

This is a decisive moment for our city, two decades in the making. Whether we form a civilian review board that can hold police officers accountable, or one that only bears the appearance of accountability, will shape the future of racial justice in New Haven. It will determine every day whose lives will be protected and whose lives matter.

Your voice matters for the future of our city. We need to hold our elected officials accountable for their actions. We need to fight for a more just New Haven, where the people finally have power over an institution that has long harmed our communities.

We, the undersigned residents of New Haven, call on the Board of Alders to support the creation of a People’s Civilian Review Board by amending their current proposal to include the following five necessary provisions:

1. Independent investigatory power including subpoena power, ability to compel witnesses and produce evidence. The CRB should also hire qualified investigators without ties to the police department.
2. Power to make disciplinary recommendations to the Chief of Police and to recommend grand jury investigations and an independent prosecutor. The police department and CRB should agree on a “disciplinary matrix” for police misconduct.
3. Representative membership with CRB members drawn from community organizations and having no ties to the police department or police union.
4. Transparency through the collecting and reporting of data on civilian complaints against the police.
5. Necessary resources The CRB budget must be a fixed percentage (1.5%) of the police departments non-capital budget.

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