Activists Frustrated By Slow Progress On Civilian Oversight Of Police
The General Assembly passed a law earlier this year enabling Virginia cities to create independent civilian boards to investigate complaints against police.
Arlington wasted no time, approving one within weeks of the law going into effect.
But local ctivist Jackie Horton, who organized marches in Virginia Beach and Norfolk, said change has been agonizingly slow.
"These decisions that the police officers make are so quick. But the desire to hold them accountable takes so long," she said. "I'm not surprised because all over the country we are seeing the same thing when it comes to justice, police accountability, transparency. So I'm not surprised, but it's definitely disappointing."
Norfolk officials publicly released police use-of-force data for the first time in July, a year after they committed to doing so.
At the same, it announced work with a third party to evaluate the possibility of setting up a review panel. Those discussions would likely start in the fall.
Virginia Beach has had a review panel since the early 90s. But the panel doesn’t have independent investigation or subpoena power and can’t discipline officers.
The city revisited the idea of giving the city’s review panel more teeth earlier this year following the killing of Donovan Lynch by police at the Oceanfront.
The City Council voted narrowly against boosting the panel’s authority. Instead, they convened a separate group to research and give recommendations.
Former Virginia Beach NAACP President Carl Wright called it “kicking the can down the road" at a community meeting in August.
"We're here about two things: subpoena power and investigative power. That has already been spoken on by the community. They asked for it," Wright said at the meeting.
That group is set to provide its recommendations to the city council this week.