Amid demands for police reform, New York City Councilmember Inez Barron wants to take things a step further.
Barron believes the Civilian Complaint Review Board, an independent watchdog group that investigates allegations of abuse or excessive force by NYPD officers, has too many close ties to the department to be effective or fair — so she’s pushing legislation called the Community Power Act.
“We have not had the independence, the impartiality, nor the thoroughness which is necessary for police officers to be held accountable for misconduct and lives they have taken,” Barron said.
For three years, Barron and supporters have been trying to replace the CCRB with an Elected Civilian Review Board that would include 17 board members elected by the community.
It’s become especially important to them after the deaths of several New Yorkers at the hands of police, one activist said.
“When you say names like Ramarley Graham, names like Eric Garner, take it back to Eleanor Bumpers, we seek revolutionary and radical change,” said Hawk Newsome from Black Lives Matter.
Critics said they believe the proposed change isn’t what’s best for the community and instead seems politically motivated.
“I’m all for the betterment of CCRB,” Dr. Darrin Porcher, a retired NYPD lieutenant said. “I think that it’s best that we work out the inner kinks of the system to make it more robust as opposed to tearing it down and building it up.”
Under the Community Power Act, ECRB would have three main components.
The entire board would be elected by the community, have total autonomy or authority to decide discipline for officers and would require an independent prosecutor.
CCRB had no comment when asked about the proposed ECRB. City Council is expected to vote on the bill Thursday.