By Erica Wright
The Birmingham Times
Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin on Monday announced the formation of the city’s first Civilian Review Board.
The review board, which came in response to recommendations from the City’s Public Safety Task Force, comes one year after widespread outrage at the death of George Floyd, who died after a Minnesota police officer kneeled on Floyd’s neck for nearly 10 minutes. A jury is now deliberating the fate of that officer, Derrick Chauvin.
During his press conference on Monday, Woodfin noted the deaths of Floyd and other Black men and women killed by police including Birmingham’s Bonita Carter in 1979.
“We will never forget the name, Bonita Carter, a woman whose tragic death at the hands of police led to cries for reform and igniting change that reshaped the destiny of our city,” Woodfin said. “Even today, we have to work harder . . . to strengthen the bond of trust between our officers and the city they’ve sworn to serve.”
“It is important that we listen to our community and take action and we reform,” he said.
The five-person review board will consist of Rev. Lawrence Conoway, pastor of Fellowship Bible Church; T. Marie King, local community activist and speaker; Annetta Nunn, former Birmingham Police Chief and YWCA domestic violence court advocate; Victor Revill, criminal justice attorney; and Joyce White Vance, former U.S. attorney, Northern District of Alabama.
“This review board puts moms and dads, faith leaders and community activists, young professionals and more at the same table as our police force,” said the mayor. “This is an opportunity to build bridges, to cultivate trust, create more checks and balances and ensure justice. Two core values of this administration have been transparency and accountability. The Civilian Review Board reflects those values.”
The board will have the ability to investigate citizen’s complaints and some subpoena powers allowed under Alabama State Law, said Woodfin. However, there are some exceptions.
“The cases that are referred to the district attorney or the Jefferson County Personnel Board or the Department of Internal Affairs, the review board will not receive those,” he said.
Once a complaint of police misconduct is submitted to the review board, there will be a 30-day review period for investigation. Once the board has reviewed the complaint, it will then be submitted to the police chief and he will take recommendations from the board, said Woodfin.
In coming weeks the board will be briefed on the complaint process and procedures. It will begin taking public complaints in early July, according to the city.
For more information, visit www.peaceandpolicy.com.