Alexandria, VA

City Councilman Mo Seifeldein says that the community police review board proposal going before City Council tonight (Tuesday, September 8) is “dead in the water.”

The proposal from Council was approved unanimously in June, and does not give the review board the ability to independently investigate police misconduct and issue subpoenas if necessary. The request to include the authority was made by the NAACP, Tenants and Workers, and other local groups, Seifeldein said.

“The Police Review Board Recommendation, while well intentioned, is DOA as it is deaf to the pain of over policed communities, disregards an expressed request by Council, and is essentially a glorified pacifier,” Seifeldein told ALXnow. “I am looking forward to the justification of this proposal.”

Seifeldein introduced the legislation that passed unanimously in June. In Virginia, there are such boards in Fairfax County, Virginia Beach and Charlottesville.

Council will also review a resolution that “recognizes the urgent need to adopt a police body worn camera policy and it shall make it a priority in the City Council work plan.”

The proposal, which was drawn up by the city manager’s office, states that the board will “provide meaningful assessments and corrective recommendations intended to remedy discriminatory practices, including race and social inequities, that it may find.”

The proposal would limit the board from investigating complaints that occurred before June 9, which is the date that council voted for the creation of the board. That includes any complaints against the department, “any financial management, or procurement decisions made by APD… individual hiring, assignment and promotional decisions made by the APD,” according to the proposal.

As previously reported, there has been a renewed focus on police activities this year. During the worst days of the pandemic, patrol officers were sent home to telework, and there were demonstrations throughout the city in the wake of the death of George Floyd. In July, an internal survey of one of the police department unions found that a majority of officers surveyed were upset over the firing of an officer for unjustified use of force. The survey by the Alexandria chapter of the Southern States Police Benevolent Association found that morale was low and a majority of officers surveyed were wary of not receiving a fair administrative process if their conduct is called into question.

Police Chief Michael L. Brown said in June that such a review board has a negative connotation.

“I do not disagree with the concept of oversight,” Brown said. “I may be mincing words here, but a ‘review board’ as its phrased in our world, in policing, has a very negative connotation.”

The proposal states that the board would be made up of:

  • Seven city residents appointed by Council
  • Three members from historically racially or socially marginalized communities that have “commonly experienced disparate policing in the city”
  • A representative from a racial or social justice organization
  • A member with law enforcement experience
  • Four members would serve three year terms, three members would serve on the inaugural board for 18 month terms

Badge photo via Alexandria Police Department/Facebook

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