Police Abuse

NC Police Reform Bill Would Permit Civilian Review Boards That Could Subpoena, Fire Police Officers

Toothless local boards inspire a stronger proposal. The bill also includes a prohibition on profiling and a new training commission.

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Durham

North Carolina state Rep. Rodney Moore (D-Mecklenburg) introduced a bill in the state legislature this month, House Bill 193, the "Prohibit Discriminatory Profiling" Act (pdf), that prohibits police profiling based on a perceived identity rather than behavior, requires the collection by the state of police deadly use of force data, a new training commission, and allows local municipalities to set up civilian review board with subpoena powers and the ability to fire police officers, with an appeals process, naturally.

The bill was inspired by the toothless citizen review boards across North Carolina (and the country), as Indy Week reports:

None of those things is legal in Durham. Rather than investigate the complaints themselves, the nine-member Durham review board's job is to ensure that the police department's internal-affairs investigations are adequate.

Supporters of the system believe the process properly leaves investigations to trained detectives; critics have long argued that the review board is little more than a rubber stamp. Indeed, says board chairman DeWarren Langley, since he began serving in 2009, there's never been an instance when the board sided with the complainants over the cops.

Last year, after a series of officer-involved shootings, allegations of racial profiling and disproportionate traffic stops against minorities in Durham, the city's Human Relations Committee made a recommendation to City Council for the citizen review board to begin directly investigating complaints against officers. In August, City Manager Tom Bonfield rejected that recommendation, arguing that review board members—whom he appoints—lack necessary investigative backgrounds.

Thanks in large part to lobbying by the parent of a police shooting victim, Wisconsin recently passed a law requiring state-level investigations of deadly use of force incidents. In the first test case, involving a Milwaukee police officer already fired for the fatal shooting, the cop was cleared by a team comprised of several former Milwaukee police officials, including the team chief. Gov. Scott Walker (R), a potential presidential hopeful, said he wasn't sure if the right decision was made but wasn't getting involved.. A second test case involving an unarmed victim is already going through the system.

The North Carolina bill, meanwhile, has a long way to go before it becomes law. The bill has 23 sponsors, all Democrats, and is still sitting in the judiciary committee. Both houses of the North Carolina legislature are controlled by Republicans. Other bills related to the police in the legislature include a bill to limit the number of law enforcement appointments an official can hold to three, and one requiring the advertisement of the sale of property seized through asset forfeiture.

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  1. Gov. Scott Walker (R), a potential presidential hopeful, said he wasn’t sure if the right decision was made but wasn’t getting involved.

    Leadership incarnate.

  2. So can these boards kick down doors and shoot cops and their dogs?

  3. “The bill has 23 sponsors, all Democrats, and is still sitting in the judiciary committee. Both houses of the North Carolina legislature are controlled by Republicans.”

    I’m going waaaay out on a limb here and guessing the bill won’t get passed.

    1. Makes too much sense.

  4. We need this all over the country.

    It’s funny listening the Rudy Guiliani and the COmmissioners of NYC claiming that ONLY COPs can judge Cops because only they understand the circumstances and hard work they do.

    Oddly enough, we don’t have Child Molesters or Burglars and Drug Dealers judging their respective crimes.

    1. It’s because Child Molesters, Burglars, and Drug Dealers don’t have training and procedures. If they did, then as long as they were following procedures, all outcomes are cool right?

  5. “And nothing else will happen”

  6. I don’t know. If I were a cop, especially a big-city cop, I’d spend my shift just sitting in my car rather than respond to crime calls that I know could get me subject to second-guessing from hostile citizens who weren’t there but can judge my actions and fire me.

    1. I don’t know, if only they could do something like wear a body camera to help exonerate themselves against judging, hostile citizens.

      Then again attending a police academy for a few months should give a person the right to kill anyone they want, so you really have a point. Really.

    2. I expect you grant doctors and nurses the same immunity from “second-guessing hostile citizens”

    3. We seem to be stuck in a weird position of no accountability for anything from government employees. You can’t be held accountable for malfeasance, you can’t be held accountable for incompetence, you can’t even be held accountable for negligence.

      About the only thing you can ever concretely lose your job over is looking bad on the news.

    4. second-guessing from hostile citizens

      Of course if the worst cases, like six-month investigations leading to a wrong-address raid or a grenade in a baby’s crib or hiring a cop who’s been fired by every other agency in the state, actually led to consequences, the citizens wouldn’t be so hostile.

    5. I don’t know.

      You could have stopped there.

      I’d spend my shift just sitting in my car rather than respond to crime calls

      So you could be fired for not doing your job. Good.

      I know could get me subject to second-guessing from hostile citizens who weren’t there but can judge my actions and fire me.

      Shorter albo: Fuck accountability, I answer to nobody!

  7. Toothless local boards inspire a stronger proposal. The bill also includes a prohibition on profiling and a new training commission.

    This is an interesting mashup of ideas… a mashup which to me, looks like everything can be fixed with another department of dues-paying public employees.

    Ie, we can fix this, if you give us another raise.

  8. These boards should be given powers of arrest over cops.

  9. “Lets get a civilian review board, yeah that’ll fix things” – the cry of the ignorant.
    Having watched this effort across the country, I can tell you, the lament of board chairman DeWarren Langley, that “since he began serving in 2009, there’s never been an instance when the board sided with the complainants over the cops” is a common one. Why?
    Because these boards are given ALL the facts surrounding the cases, not just what the sensationalist media puts out, and, once ALL the facts are known, the police are almost always in the right.

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