In Greensboro, members of the CRC Enhancement Committee were in agreement on Tuesday afternoon that they would like to make changes to the Complaint Review Committee (CRC) process. Under the current process, citizens may file a complaint if they feel they have been treated unfairly by a member of the police department. The complaints are then sent to the Greensboro Police Department’s Professional Standards Division (PSD) who review the evidence and determine a ruling on the matter. If the citizen is not satisfied with the ruling they may ask the CRC to review the decision.
Members of the subcommittee include Mayor Nancy Vaughan, Mayor Pro Tem Yvonne Johnson, Councilman Tony Wilkins and Councilman Jamal Fox. Chief Ken Miller was also there to listen to deliberations and interim city attorney, Tom Carruthers, provided legal guidance to members as they conceptualized process changes.
The proposed changes to the process were partially influenced by grievances of Lori Walton, who has had an ongoing case with the CRC for two years. Walton expressed frustration that information has been kept from her regarding her case, which involves two different accusations of child abuse inflicted on her son by Guilford County School employees.
Johnson expressed sympathy for Walton’s objections to the internal process. “To be shut out, and to not be a part of a process that involves your children, to me, is wrong,” Johnson stated. Wilkins asked members, “In my role as a councilmember, is there anything I can do to help Ms. Walton find a resolution?” Johnson said she felt it was outside the current realm of City Council, and so they needed to form a new process. For the present time, subcommittee members advised Walton to contact an attorney to help with obtaining the files related to her case. Chief Miller added that, “We [the police] would love to be able to provide the case. That is not the issue. The law is what prevents us from providing it.”
Mayor Vaughan suggested appointing a individuals separate from the CRC and the police department to help citizens through the process. The subcommittee discussed the possibility of letting each councilmember appoint an individual to serve through the duration of the councilmember’s term. Opinions were somewhat divided over whether or not there should be guidelines for appointing individuals to this role, and what sort of police training the appointee should undergo. Chief Miller said he would be willing to work with the CRC on expediting any sort of training course for such a role and suggested that objectivity would be a key trait for any appointee.
The CRC Enhancement Committee intends to move forward with plans to change the process by first researching the processes of other cities. Mayor Vaughan suggested that the committee members find out how other communities do things and joked that members could, “take a road trip, Thelma and Louise style!”
Instead of a cross-country tour, the subcommittee plans to send letters to communities with external boards in complaint review processes to find out more about the administrative logistics of how their process works and what type of feedback they have received from citizens. Communities to receive letters include the cities of Winston-Salem, Charlotte and Durham.