Civilian Review Board
What is the Civilian Review Board?
To improve relationships between the community-at-large and the Birmingham Police Department, Mayor Randall Woodfin established the Civilian Review Board for the primary purpose of providing transparency and an independent assessment on police operations. The Board creates space for accountability of the City and the police department for its operations, and will review community complaints of alleged officer misconduct.
What powers will the Civilian Review Board have?
The Civilian Review Board will investigate complaints submitted by Birmingham residents in response to allegations of police misconduct so long as the underlying issue has not been previously referred to the District Attorney and/or the Jefferson County Personnel Board and/or the Birmingham Police Department’s Internal Affairs. As such, the Civilian Review Board will have general investigative and subpoena authority as allowed under Alabama law.
How are members selected to the Civilian Review Board?
- The Civilian Review Board will consist of five (5) members.
- Each member will serve at the will of the Mayor, and any member may be removed for cause or at the direction of the Mayor.
- The Board shall be comprised of one (1) representative from each of the following groups: (1) a former judge and/or prosecutor; (2) a Birmingham resident; (3) a retired Birmingham Police Department officer designated by the current Chief of Police; (4) a criminal defense attorney practicing in Jefferson County; and, (5) an at-large Board member that will serve as the Board chairperson.
What are the requirements for membership on the Civilian Review Board?
Review Board Members must be:
- Over the age of nineteen (19);
- Must be a resident of the City of Birmingham for at least one year;
- Agree to submit to a background check;
- Not have any pending criminal cases;
- Concerned about police and community relations;
- Sensitive to community needs and perceptions and have a willingness to commit themselves to community service and conduct themselves in a manner consistent with the purposes for which the Review Board is formed;
- Committed to seeking input from the community and applying that input to further the purposes of the Review Board; and,
- Committee Members may not be employed by the City of Birmingham.
What is the complaint process?
- Community members may make complaints directly to the Civilian Review Board or the Office of Peace and Policy.
- Upon receipt of a community complaint, the Office of Peace and Policy shall conduct a review and appropriate investigation.
- The date of referral shall trigger a 30-day review period, and unless the Office of Peace and Policy is granted an extension from the Review Board to complete their review, a report to the Review Board from the Office of Peace and Policy shall be transmitted to the Review Board for a public hearing, if necessary.
Where can I make complaints?
Digital complaint forms will be made available shortly on the Office of Peace and Policy’s website, and paper forms will also be available in the Office of Peace of Policy.
What are the some of the benefits of community oversight?
- Citizens are given an independent venue to voice concerns.
- Citizen-led oversight gives police departments an independent line of sight into officer misconduct and provides a venue for holding officers accountable.
- Citizen-led oversight boards can help improve the quality of the department’s internal investigations of alleged misconduct by serving as a supplemental resource on police misconduct and an independent body for developing recommendations on Departmental policy based on misconduct complaints.
- Citizen-led oversight can help increase the public’s understanding of the Department’s policies and procedures.
- Citizen-led oversight agencies can improve Departmental operations by making policy recommendations stemming from citizen complaints regarding misconduct that identify areas of concern and subsequently offer recommendations to improve policing.
- Citizen-led oversight can assist a jurisdiction in liability management and reduce the likelihood of costly litigation by identifying problems and proposing non-binding corrective measures before a lawsuit is filed.