Citizen Review Board reaching out to the community
An agency to investigate grievances from citizens against the Syracuse Police Department has been re-established. As YNN's Erin Clarke tells us, members of the Citizen Review Board made their presence known Sunday by joining the Southwest Community Center's Trauma Response Team at a community outreach event.
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SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- The Citizen Review Board was created for people who believe they've been a victim of injustices committed by police. The agency ensures that citizens can voice those grievances, have them reviewed impartially, and then if found necessary, it recommends disciplinary actions to the police chief.
"He reports back to us what his ultimate decision was and so there's the checks and balances again. We can see was our recommendation taken by the chief. If it wasn't, he's supposed to tell us why not and so that helps us improve our process," said Citizen Review Board Administrator, Joseph Lipari.
Improvement is important. The CRB was eliminated last year and members site an adversarial relationship with the police department and a slow process of responding to complaints as some of the reasons.
This time around CRB members want to make sure that those problems do not plague agency. And in doing so, they hope to better serve the community.
"One of the main differences is that we have a sixty day time frame when we have to complete our investigations and our hearing process," said Lipari.
A move Lipari said is beneficial for both citizens who want to see their case handled in a timely manner and officers who can become distracted by a lingering investigation.
Board members believe the key to the new CRB's success is making sure it protects the people and also officers.
"A lot of people think that the CRB is a whooping stick or some type of punishment to for the Syracuse Police Department, but that's not the case. We're just trying to open up the lines of communication on both ends, so the citizens can help out the police department and the police department can help out the citizens as well," said Trauma Response Team Director, Timothy Jennings-Bey
Since the beginning of the year the CRB has already reviewed about an average of 5 cases a month.
The next CRB meeting will be on Thursday, September 6, 2012 from 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm at the City Hall Common Council Chambers.