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City seeks to hire independent counsel for CRB

City seeks to hire independent counsel for CRB

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CRB meeting

The Charlottesville Police Civilian Review Board held its second meeting in July. Top row (from left): board Chairman James Watson, Deputy Clerk of Council Max Robinson, Communications Director Brian Wheeler. Second row (from left): board member Nancy Carpenter, City Attorney John Blair and board member Bill Mendez. Bottom row (from left): board member Dorenda Johnson, City Manager Tarron Richardson and board member Stuart Evans.

Charlottesville is seeking an attorney to represent the Police Civilian Review Board.

The city published a request for proposals for legal services to assist the oversight panel on Friday.

The board unanimously voted to start the process for hiring independent legal counsel last month in an effort to maintain independence from the city government.

Mayor Nikuyah Walker has been critical of the proposal, telling the board that outside counsel only makes sense in terms of use-of-force or other incidents in which City Attorney John Blair would be defending an officer.

The young board has already butted heads with city officials in the past few months as the CRB tries to maintain its independence from the city government and boost its power.

Activists also called foul as the council appointed a city employee to fill a vacancy on the board last month in violation of the board’s ordinance and bylaws. The council quickly rescinded the appointment and filled it with a different applicant.

An attorney would be the first hired hand dedicated to the board as it has yet to hire an executive director.

Although the board voted, 3-2, to send a draft job description for the executive director to the city manager’s office at its meeting last month, the position is not yet posted.

It’s unclear how much independent counsel could cost. The city has allocated $150,000 to the board, which is also expected to include salary for the executive director.

The city will accept proposals for the legal services until 2 p.m. Oct. 2.

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City Hall reporter

Nolan Stout is a reporter for The Daily Progress. Contact him at (434) 978-7274, nstout@dailyprogress.com, or @TheNolanStout on Twitter and Facebook.

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