Newsletter

Police review board moves forward, but questions about confidentiality remain

The city is gradually ironing out the details for what could become a police review board that reshapes some of the community engagement with local law enforcement.

The proposed Community Policing Review Board will be a “civilian body may receive, investigate and issue findings on complaints from civilians regarding conduct of law-enforcement officers and civilian employees of a law enforcement agency serving under local authority,” according to the city website.

There’s been a long public back and forth over how much power should be granted to this board and how much protection the police department should receive. At a nearly six hour community meeting last week, the City Council, city staff and police department hammered out some of the important minutia around how the board will operate.

One of the largest recurring questions remains how the Community Policing Review Board will handle confidentiality. The ordinance includes a clause that material considered confidential for Freedom of Information Act can be reviewed in closed session by the Board.

According to the draft ordinance:

If such documents contain confidential information authorized to remain confidential pursuant to the Virginia Freedom of Information Act, the information may be reviewed in a closed session of the Board in order to maintain the confidentiality. If the documents requested are part of a criminal investigative file for an active criminal investigation which could be compromised by the revelation of the process, evidence, methods, scope, or other factors in such investigation, APD shall not be compelled to provide such documents until such time as the investigation is completed or a determination is made that the criminal investigation will no longer be compromised.

Staff noted at the meeting that an independent auditor could have access to sealed criminal investigation files, something Police Chief Michael Brown said could make cooperation with other agencies difficult.

“The issue is whether or not the independent auditor will maintain confidentiality of ongoing investigation,” Brown said. “This only applies to APD. If we have criminal investigation where we work with state police, they will have different policies and procedures and could end up not sharing that information because they don’t want to compromise an ongoing case.”

Councilman Mo Seifeldein noted that part of the purpose of hiring an independent auditor is to provide a level of security and impartiality that would keep them from sharing the documents.

More broadly, Councilwoman Del Pepper was concerned that public documents could be used to identify individuals, even if the names are obscured.

“There are no secrets around here,” Pepper said. “If people knew he was interviewing Mr. X or Ms. Y, they might put two and two together. Things are not secret here.”

The City Attorney noted that the reports would take steps to avoid including any personally identifiable information.

One other item in the ordinance that raised eyebrows was the requirement to include a board member who has past experience in law enforcement but is not a former member of the Alexandria Police Department or related to anyone who is.

“[We need] law enforcement member who didn’t serve in Alexandria and has been retired for at least three years,” Wilson said. “We’re looking for a purple unicorn here.”

The City Council moved to bring the Community Policing Review Board up for first reading at the City Council’s April 17 meeting.

Recent Stories

Alexandria City Public Schools is has a “crew” problem — organized groups of kids that are participating in criminal behavior, according to Police Chief Don Hayes. If the description sounds…

A new report, prepared for a City Council meeting tomorrow (Wednesday), looks back at the progress made on several priorities adopted earlier this year, from pandemic recovery to housing. The…

(Updated 3:45 p.m.) After all the fuss over its creation, the Alexandria Independent Community Policing Review Board has seemingly had a pretty quiet first full year since its creation. The…

Inova has major plans for the former Lanadmark Mall site, and will conduct its second virtual community meeting on Monday, October 17. The timeline for the project is still subject…

Are you tired of going to the gym? It might be the crowds, the locker room, waiting on equipment or the time it takes to commute to the gym.

Having a personal trainer come to your home will keep you accountable, save you time and allow you to workout in the comfort of your own home.

Skip the hassle of the gym and try our in-home personal training service.

Our services are reasonably priced, convenient, effective and are risk free.

Read More

Submit your own Community Post here.

At Nova Fencing Club, the beginner fencing classes are designed for students of all levels – including students who have never fenced before.

If you’re looking for a fun physical activity that improves your fitness, critical thinking and rapid decision making skills then come join us!

There’s no better time than now to give us a try – and take part in one of the fastest growing sports. Our highly educated, professional coaching staff includes Virginia’s only Maitre d’Armes, a member of USA Fencing’s coaching team, former members of the USA National Team, and our Head Coach, who has produced national champions.

Register for either our Youth Beginner Fencing Classes (7-12) or our Teen & Adult Beginner Fencing Classes (13 to Adult) and become a part of the club that champions call home.

Submit your own Community Post here.

Think BIG! About the Future of Movement

Join the City of Alexandria and Arlington County’s Initiative to Rethink Energy at our first ever electric vehicle (EV) and sustainable technologies showcase! Get inspired by seeing a variety of electric cars, scooters, bikes, motorcycles, police cars, buses, trucks and

Between Home and the Front: Book Talk and Signing

Join the Smithsonian’s National Postal Museum on Zoom or in person at the museum for a special book talk with the curators behind Between Home and the Front: Civil War Letters of the Walters Family. A book signing will be

×

Subscribe to our mailing list