NEW YORK In New York City, voters have the opportunity to decide on changes to the city charter, including a proposal that would affect the group that investigates police misconduct. That ballot question on the Civilian Complaint Review Board, although potentially imposing what seem like relatively minor tweaks, has stirred controversy even before it made it to voters with the start of early voting this past weekend.
The CCRB proposal is the second of five questions regarding the city charter. The question itself encompasses five total proposals that voters must decide on as a bundle. The proposals broadly would expand police oversight and increase the agency’s independence. They suggest expanding board membership from 13 to 15, giving the board a guaranteed budget, requiring the police commissioner to provide an explanation of any deviation from recommended police discipline, allowing it to investigate officers for making false statements while the subject of a complaint and allowing the board to delegate subpoena power to the executive director.
This controversy was brought up at the 63 pct monthly council meeting on October 23, 2019. Watch:
But some argued that the Charter Revision Commission – the group tasked with deciding what changes to the charter should be put before voters – failed to go far enough in addressing problems with the CCRB and police accountability. The Campaign for an Elected Civilian Review Board had testified for the need to completely do away with the CCRB, which is politically appointed, and replace it with an agency consisting of publicly elected members instead. The group even drafted changes to the city charter that would establish that elected board, which the commission did not utilize.
At the commission’s final hearing, when it voted to adopt the official ballot and charter language of each question, police reform activists associated with the Campaign for an Elected Civilian Review Board interrupted the proceedings. Now, the group has returned its efforts to the City Council to implement the change and is not publicly campaigning for or against the ballot question.
The changes seem minor compared to an overhaul of the city’s electoral system – the first question on the ballot would institute a new voting system called ranked choice for municipal primaries and special elections. “These changes are nominal, but serve to signal the city’s continued commitment to substantive accountability measures,” Common Cause Executive Director Susan Lerner wrote in a statement of support, echoing others who support the changes while adding the city could do more when it comes to police accountability.
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(Source: City & State)