Virginia Beach still doesn't have lawyers for a citizen review board to investigate police
- Written by Paul Bibeau
- Category: Local News
- Published: 24 August 2022
Virginia Beach City Council voted nine months ago to create a new citizen board to investigate complaints against the police.
There would be a crucial difference from the city’s current Investigation Review Panel: it could ask a court to subpoena witnesses and documents.
To do that the board needs lawyers. The city has not found any, and the second deadline to do so has expired.
The city put out a request in May for a legal team to function as the board’s coordinator. They would monitor internal police investigations of complaints, formally ask the board to apply to the court for subpoenas and substantiate when a subpoena is necessary to fully review a case.
The first application deadline was in June. The city extended the deadline twice, but failed to get any acceptable responses.
Virginia Beach spokesperson Tiffany Russell said in an email the only submission was from an out-of-state firm that isn’t licensed to practice in Virginia.
It’s unclear what happens next. Russell said the city attorney would “seek direction from the City Council.”
Until then the city’s current panel, which lacks subpoena power, will continue to field complaints about police.
City officials told WHRO earlier this year not having a lawyer wouldn't slow the creation of the new board, but leaders have not appointed any citizens to it yet.
The board can "receive, investigate, and issue findings on complaints from civilians regarding the conduct of sworn members of the Police Department," according to city ordinance. It does not have the power to punish police officers.
The board may ask a court for a subpoena only after making "a good faith effort" to obtain documents and witness testimony voluntarily. The subject of the subpoena can appeal to the court as well, asking for them to quash it.