To the editor:

The NYCLU Capital Region Chapter has monitored the Albany Citizen Police Review Board since the agency’s inception in 2000. We have worked with the CPRB to increase its presence in the community and improve its ability to provide effective and responsible oversight of the Albany Police Department. There is much more work to do.

Recently the CPRB has been revising its procedures for reviewing police misconduct complaints, and we are encouraged that board members are taking their charge seriously. Police accountability benefits everyone, including the vast majority of cops who are dedicated to making their communities safer and stronger.

To strengthen the CPRB’s ability to hold police accountable for misconduct, the City Council should amend local law to:

  • Provide the CPRB subpoena power. The board should have the power to conduct independent investigations of police misconduct complaints.
  • Empower the CPRB to recommend disciplinary action to the Police Department.

In addition, the CPRB should immediately hire its own counsel. It currently shares counsel with the Police Department, which represents a clear conflict of interest.

We applaud Reverend Smart, the CPRB chairman, for his commitment to the review board process. Under his leadership, we hope the CPRB will provide effective civilian oversight over the use, and misuse, of police authority.

Melanie Trimble
Chapter Director
NYCLU Capital Region Chapter