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City Council Wants Independent Investigative Authority, Sends Back Police Review Board Proposal

The Alexandria City Council on Tuesday night unanimously sent a proposal establishing a community police review board back to the drawing board.

In Tuesday night’s legislative meeting, Councilman Mo Seifeldein said that city staff did not include his desire to give the review board independent investigative authority to look into police misconduct and issue subpoenas. Seifeldein said he was clear with his request to City Manager Mark Jinks when Council unanimously directed the creation of the review board proposal in June.

Jinks said that the police department’s investigative authority works well and that he presented a proposal to fit Council’s request.

“I believe that we bought forth a specific proposal that was within the confines, within the parameters, of what we believe Council was looking for — a police review board in an ordinance form,” Jinks said. “We did not interpret Council’s direction to be that a board itself be an investigative authority, and that authority be removed from the police department.”

Seifeldein asked Jinks if he remembered the June meeting and said he does not want to take investigative authority away from the police.

“I don’t know, to be honest with you, Mr. Jinks, too many reasonable people who would have watched that meeting and come up with that same conclusion that the Council did not want to look at investigative authority,” Seifeldein said.

Mayor Justin Wilson said he believed that Jinks did not intentionally mislead Council with his proposal.

“I believe that the city manager and his staff presented a recommendation that is in alignment with what the council requested him to do,” Wilson said.

Jinks presented Council with a proposal that would create an independent auditor to work with the board to conduct “broad evaluations, offer recommendations for improving policing policies, practices, procedures and training.” The proposal limits the board from investigating complaints that occurred before June 9. 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.”

“We do want an independent investigation of some things,” said Councilwoman Amy Jackson. “That’s what the point of this is.”

Councilman Canek Aguirre said staff needs to go back to the drawing board and asked for more information on other community police review boards around the country. In Virginia, there are such boards in Fairfax County, Virginia Beach and Charlottesville.

“We do need to go back to the drawing board to reassess what are our options and power,” Aguirre said, adding that the proposal was created within a short timeframe. “I think that we need to go back and revisit the whole thing.”

Jinks said he understood Council’s request and that he will present an option for the community police review board with subpoena power with an auditor/independent investigator at Council’s next legislative meeting on October 17.

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