The Arlington County Board took action at its May recessed meeting to modernize public safety and improve police and community relations throughout the County by considering an ordinance to establish a Civilian Review Board for the Arlington County Police Department.
“All Arlington residents want to be safe and to make sure we use the best police practices available to keep everyone in our community safe,” said Matt de Ferranti, Chair of the Arlington County Board. “By taking this step today—advertising this draft ordinance to create a civilian review board—we are beginning the legislative process to provide civilian review of police practices in Arlington. As we discuss and debate this ordinance over the next two months, we must both recognize that our community has an interest in additional accountability and transparency related to law enforcement and respect the diligent efforts of our public safety personnel. ”
Implementing a Civilian Review Board
The Board voted 4-1 to authorize the advertisement of a public hearing to consider an ordinance to amend the Arlington County Code to establish a program of police oversight comprised of a Law Enforcement Civilian Review Board and Independent Policing Auditor. The ordinance would authorize the creation of a seven voting member Civilian Review Board (CRB) and two non-voting members with law enforcement backgrounds with the goal of reviewing investigations, policies and disciplinary decisions by Arlington County Police Department and offer recommendations to the Chief of Police and Board, as needed. This draft recommendation to implement a hybrid model of civilian oversight comes from the recommendations of the 15-member Police Practices Group, which was formed in July 2020 and presented its findings to the County Manager earlier this year. During discussion, the Board members cited the desire to continue the opportunity to engage with the community on final language for the ordinance to reach the best possible solution. More information is available in the staff report; scroll to Item No. 33 on the agenda.
The CRB proposal follows the authorization of an advertisement of a public hearing to repeal, reenact and recodify Chapter 17 of the Arlington County Code. As part of its report, the Police Practices Group recommended repealing Arlington County Code §17-13(C) Identification (refusal to identify oneself at the request of a police officer). More information is available in the staff report; scroll to Item No. 32 on the agenda.
The public will have additional opportunity to provide direct feedback on the ordinance to establish the Civilian Review Board in July.