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CRB Update January 2021

  • CRB ordinance is culmination of an 8-month effort

    • After months of research and negotiations, ASJ and City Staff, with help from NACOLE (National Association for Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement), have finished negotiating the terms of the Ordinance which will create a Citizen Review Board in Cedar Rapids. 

    • While ASJ initially pushed for a faster timeline, surveying the public, conducting focus groups, and hashing out details took time. 

    • We met nearly every week to ensure we had a final product that would create an effective CRB. 

    • It was more important to get the terms right, than to rush through negotiations. 

    • We hope the process used to develop the CRB ordinance will serve as a roadmap for future negotiations.

  • ASJ influenced changes to public engagement process

    • ASJ initially expressed concern about the public engagement process which the city outlined last summer. 

    • We were able to help with the design of the focus groups, for example, to ensure the messaging and participants would reach a broad cross-section of our community and amplify the voices of those impacted by law enforcement.

    • The data collected in surveys and focus groups actually helped with negotiations because we worked with Jennifer and Bill to ensure the participants represented the community at-large, and particularly those groups most negatively impacted by police misconduct.

  • Subpoena power not included in ordinance

    • While ASJ initially requested that the CRB hold subpoena power, there was extensive consideration as to the legality and efficacy of having such power.  

    • ASJ countered City questions regarding legality with research from attorneys, legal scholars, and other experts.

    • Where we landed is that the CRB may request witnesses and SMEs participate in closed sessions and, if there is disagreement about the outcome of a CRPD investigation, the CRB can remand the case to a third party - such as a non-governmental independent arbiter, to conduct its own investigation. 

    • We had the benefit of the national authority, NACOLE, in our meetings so we all benefited from their insights and research.

  • Role in Chief of Police selection

    • Another sticking point was the authority to hire/fire the Chief of Police. 

    • Where we landed is that at least one representative from the CRB will “serve on any Chief of Police candidate selection committee”. 

  • Next steps

    • We are confident in the CRB as presented, but welcome constructive feedback from the community. 

    • While we feel we have developed the strongest CRB in the state, we know much work remains.

    • It is our hope that the CRB will find a champion on city council to help ensure the strongest CRB possible over the years.

    • Meanwhile, we continue work on the remaining six demands - for which Council unanimously approved support in June of 2020.

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