At a March 24 rally at City Hall Park, Brooklyn Councilmember Inez Barron called for the passage of her new Community Power Act — a bill aimed at increasing transparency within the Police Department by establishing the first-ever Elected Civilian Review Board.
“We have not had the independence, the impartiality nor the thoroughness which is necessary for police officers to be held accountable for their misconduct and for the lives of that they have taken,” Barron said, stressing that the current Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB) does not provide proper accountability for the NYPD’s transgressions.
The Community Power Act, she told demonstrators near the Jacob Wrey Mould Fountain, would create an unbiased and independent sector that could properly discipline the city’s police officers, while providing justice for communities that have been unfairly treated.
As it stands, the CCRB is tasked with overseeing investigations into the Police Department, but Barron and supporters maintain that the agency has too many close ties to the NYPD, which often allows justice to be swept under the rug.
The bill, being put forward to the City Council Thursday, has already garnered support. Amid shouts of “All power to all people,” attendees Wednesday read out the names of Eric Garner, Akai Gurley, Amadou Diallo, and several other victims of police violence. These continued killings, in addition to 2020’s surge of Black Lives Matter protests, have put police accountability at the forefront of political discussions.
“We are proud to stand here today and say, let New York be the first to create a community elected police review board,” said Pamela Monroe, a member of the NYC Campaign for ECRB. “Let New York be the first to give that board the power to investigate, discipline and fire police officers that deserve to be fired. Let New York be the first by passing the Community Power Act.”
Monroe said ensuing violence is often perpetuated by a system which benefits the NYPD and not the community — and that most reforms the city has touted are simply shallow cosmetic shifts meant to draw away the ire of the public.
“The NYPD made our city infamous by acting above the very law they are charged to enforce,” she said, adding that the city’s police commissioner should not have final say on determining punishment for NYPD officers. “They did it during the protests and they have been doing it in our neighborhoods for years. The NYPD made our city infamous, but it’s time for us to make our city famous for taking back the power and putting it in the people’s hands.”
If enacted, the ECRB would be made up of 17 community-elected board members and would have the power to make disciplinary rulings on police officers and pursue investigations on misconduct — in contrast to the CCRB, which only has the ability to review cases. There would also be an independent prosecutor on hand to help rule over criminal cases.
The CCRB did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Barron represents the Council’s 42nd District, which encompasses the neighborhoods of East New York, New Lots, Remsen Village, Spring Creek, and Starrett City.
This story first appeared on AMNY.com.