The Civilian Review Authority work group decided on some recommendations today:
1) Forming a Police Accountability Coordinating Committee (PACC), comprised of the MPD/CRA Liaison, the Director of Civil Rights, the CRA Manager, the Chair of the HE&E committee, the Internal Affairs Unit Commander, the Chair of the PS&RS committee, the CRA Board Chair, the Mayor and the Police Chief, or any of the above's designee. The group will meet monthly to address "police accountability issues and concerns among the CRA, Civil Rights, and MPD, by promoting communication and greater understanding among the entities dedicated to public safety and police accountability." Topics discussed include, but aren't limited to:
a. Administrative issues concerning CRA, IAU, Civil Rights
b. MPD policy recommendations
c. Disciplinary decisions
d. Community outreach
e. Emerging trends: patterns of complaints
f. Other matters deemed appropriate
2) Establishing two different processes - "routine" and "extended" - for the CRA to recommend changes in MPD policy.
In the "routine" process, the CRA board or staff send a recommendation to the PACC (see above). The MPD then decides whether to accept or reject the recommendation within 60 days. If the recommendation is rejected, the CRA Board may vote to initiate the "extended" process.
The "extended" process can also be started at the CRA Board's discretion. It involves a more formal policy review at the CRA Board level, which is sent to the Mayor, the Chief and the Chairs of both HE&E and PS&RS. The Chairs may choose to put the issue on the committee agenda for discussion, take public comment, and ultimately make a recommendation to the Mayor. Again, the Chief (and Mayor) take action within 60 days: either to accept or reject the recommendation or to send it back to the CRA for more work.
I believe that both of these recommendations are steps in the right direction. Having a formal process for the CRA to follow to recommend policy changes will truly empower them for the first time to do one of their central missions: influencing police policy. The Board's considered, high-quality output on the taser issue convinced me that they are a vitally important voice on any police policy discussion.
I am optimistic that the PACC will establish clear lines of communication between the CRA and the MPD for the first time, and could very well prevent the sorts of disputes and lack of MPD "buy-in" to the process that have marred the CRA process since its inception. I am especially pleased that the CRA staff and Board Chair will have a venue to ask MPD higher-ups about disciplinary decisions. This could make it much harder for future Chiefs to decline to act on sustained CRA cases for more than two years, as is the current case.
As with all recommendations of this work group, these are open to public comment. Email firstname.lastname@example.org with your comments. And stay tuned - all of the group's recommendations will be moving through HE&E and PS&RS in the next several months.