According to Thompson, he will wait until the CRB’s current lawsuit against the Syracuse Police Department has been settled before introducing any new legislation regarding the CRB.
The Syracuse Common Council has considered passing a resolution that would limit the legal power of the city’s Citizen Review Board, in order to prevent the board from taking legal action against the Syracuse Police Department.
The board was established in 1993 to review city residents’ complaints of police misconduct.
Common Councilor Steven Thompson, the councilor who sponsored the law, has proposed the following amendment to the legislation which established the CRB:
“In accordance with the City Charter, and applicable Local Law, nothing in this Local Law shall be construed to, or shall establish a power of the CRB to initiate, join, participate or commence any legal action or proceeding.”
The board currently has the power to issue subpoena’s, and file lawsuits, while in the process of investigating complaints. However, those who are opposed to the new amendment said the new measure may defeat the purpose of the CRB.
“Instead of letting this go to a judge to interpret the law for us, corporation council’s office put together this language to bar the CRB from entering any legal activity,” Joseph Lipari, administrator of the CRB, said to the Syracuse Post Standard. “It’s so broad, it could stop us not only from resolving this issue, but any issue in the future.”
However, according to Thompson, the board’s subpoena power during investigations would not be affected by the new provision.
“All it would do is to assure that the CRB cannot sue,” he stated.
The CRB filed a lawsuit against the Syracuse Police Department for not following its disciplinary recommendations earlier this month, and also won a lawsuit against Onondaga County over the release of 911 records in 2015.
Several community members recently appeared at a city council meeting in order to oppose the resolution.
Reportedly, Thompson said he would hold off on the amendment until it could be discussed at a public safety committee meeting which is scheduled to take place in the next two weeks.