Bill calls for oversight in citizen review boards and diversity training for law enforcement

Bill calls for oversight in citizen review boards and diversity training for law enforcement
April 02
00:00 2015

North Carolina House legislators have united to present state representatives with a bill that is designed to help end racial profiling throughout the state.

House Bill 193 was filed on March 10 by Rep. Rodney Moore (D-Mecklenburg) and passed its first reading  on March 11. On the  same day, the bill was sent to the Judiciary Committee.

The bill has been sponsored and co-sponsored by more than 20 members of the house and calls for more diversity training for law enforcement, maintenance of  and additional oversight through Citizen Review Boards to prevent profiling of any type — nationality, race, religion, etc., by police.

The bill comes at a time when most Americans believe that racial profiling has been a key factor in the numerous officer-involved shootings across the nation. One case close to home is the September 2013 fatal shooting of Jonathan Ferrell, who was mistaken by a Charlotte police officer for a suspect in a breaking-and-entering case. Ferrell had actually been looking for help after a car wreck that night.

House Rep. Edward “Ed” Hanes Jr., said he signed the bill to create a conversation and open dialogue about profiling.

“It’s a conversation that absolutely needs to happen. We’ve had a lot of unfortunate interactions over the last four or five years that just really brought the situation, in regards to the interaction between police and the black community, to the forefront. This bill aims to get the conversation started at a higher level so that we can work with our law enforcement community and with the broader community to make sure that some of the things that are happening, from a profiling standpoint, can cease,” he said.

Council member James Taylor, chair of the city’s Public Safety Committee, said that racial profiling and discrimination are real throughout the nation and it needs to be addressed.

“I would note that the deplorable practice of discriminatory profiling is already prohibited by the Winston-Salem Police Department, and we are currently working to improve the system that is already in place to address such issues,” Taylor said. “Our police department has more work to do, but it has been one of the most transparent and trailblazing North Carolina police departments as it relates to police checkpoints reform, data storage, domestic violence, police body cameras, and reductions in uses of force. Nationally, all police departments certainly have more work to do to promote education and sensitivity training against discriminatory profiling.”

Currently, communities have to receive permission from legislators to create Citizen Review Boards, which investigates and reviews allegations of misconduct by law enforcement officers. This bill would remove that requirement. It would also require training to those agencies.

The boards could be created without the approval of legislatures as long as they follow the guidelines in the bill, which include the procedure of appointment, the manner in which hearings are held and the length of terms and qualifications for those appointed.

Residents already have the ability to file formal complaints against any officer of the Winston-Salem Police Department or Forsyth County Sheriff’s Department. They can also file a complaint with the Citizen Police Review Board, made up of residents from the community, if they disagree with the results. If that doesn’t work, residents can take any alleged case of profiling or discrimination to the Public Safety Committee for review, according to Taylor.

“As the chair of Public Safety, I do believe that making the citizen review boards easier to establish statewide is a good thing, especially in cities and towns that do not have one established as we do in Winston-Salem,” he said. “There can never be too much citizen input when it comes to government. Citizen review boards help to keep local government in the hands of the people.”

Hanes, who represents the 72nd district, said that the review boards are a necessary and needed interaction between law enforcement and the community. He said that it is not to point fingers at the police but to create a checks and balances system for all involved.

“Citizen review boards can, and should, be part of that interaction. We have to make sure that police officers are being treated fairly in the same way that we have to make sure citizens are being treated fairly by the folks that we depend on to protect and serve the community. This is not a situation where we are looking to catch police officers in nefarious activity or anything like that,” Hanes said. “It’s really about making sure that everyone is accountable in an interaction that we absolutely must have. We must have police officers protecting our community. It’s there to make it easier for these boards to exist without a lot of encumbrance.”

Taylor said that while the bill has good intentions, he believes that it is a double-edged sword to communities. He said that the bill could prove to be too costly for residents due to departments being strapped for cash and the lost general fund revenues from recent General Assembly cuts.

“I feel that mandating our police department to complete additional reporting duties, and to meet additional paperwork deadlines in order to provide a database of information that can already be requested by any private citizen, actually takes away from time that our officers should be out protecting and serving our community.  This bill does have the potential to serve as an excellent source of information on reporting collective local crime statistics to the state and federal government, however, it may place an undue financial burden on our local government to hire additional administrative staff, without providing the necessary funding,” he said. “It is never a good practice to place a price tag on public safety. Winston-Salem has lost revenue from the loss of sales taxes, business privilege licenses, and the loss of the ability to regulate software fees.”

For more information about the bill, visit 

Winston-Salem Citizens’ Police Review Board Mayor Allen Joines is currently accepting applications from residents interested in serving on the Citizens’ Police Review Board. The board has two openings and the applications must be received by April 10. The application form, along with a description of the board, is available through the Boards and Commissions link at, or by calling the Mayor’s office at 336-727-2058. Applications may be faxed to the Mayor’s Office at 336-748-3241 or mailed to P.O. Box 2511, Winston-Salem, N.C. 27102.

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Chanel Davis

Chanel Davis

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