charlottesville police civilian oversight board launches online complaint portal
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Charlottesville Police Civilian Oversight Board launches online complaint portal

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Earlier this year, the Charlottesville Police Civilian Oversight Board selected Sivil Technologies Inc. as the software company that will provide the online system to receive and process police misconduct complaints for the city.

Executive Director Hansel Aguilar has been working with Sivil’s CEO, Tony Rice II, over the past few months to customize the complaints portal to meet the needs of the Charlottesville community.

The recently launched online portal will allow for community members to file complaints regarding incidents of alleged misconduct by employees of the Charlottesville Police Department directly to the Board for investigation, request board review of internal affairs investigations, submit recommendations to improve the services of the board or CPD and to submit compliments pursuant to positive interactions with CPD officers.

Other features of the portal include the ability to track the progress of complaints or review requests as they are considered by the board and access to general data relating to the number of complaints submitted in previous years, the type of complaint, and the disciplinary outcome of investigations into complaints.

The PCOB is in the process of releasing informational videos educating the public on the purpose of the portal and how to navigate its different features. Once completed, the videos will be uploaded to the FAQs section of the portal.

The portal can be accessed online at Charlottesvilleva.siviltech.com.

The PCOB will still receive, and process complaints and or allegations received via email or fax. Additionally, community members who are not comfortable with technological products still have the option to bring forth their concerns, allegations of police misconduct, and or compliments by contacting the PCOB office number or visiting the PCOB office located in City Hall.

Regarding the selection of Sivil, Aguilar states, “In my experience in the field of civilian oversight, I have utilized different software and programs designed for investigations and case management. I was attracted to Sivil because of the company’s stated and demonstrable commitment of putting civilians first.”

Aguilar also says the market research for similar oversight tools shows that many products do not adequately consider usability by members of the public.

“Many of the comparable products in this market were made for law enforcement or with them in mind. Mr. Rice and his team are devoted to providing a product for this niche field,” says Aguilar, “I have been very impressed with Mr. Rice’s availability, professionalism and expertise throughout the customization process. In selecting Sivil, I am confident we are providing the community with a product that considers the community’s values of accessibility, transparency, and intentionality.”

Rice echoes Aguilar’s sentiment that accessibility and a user-friendly interface are central to the portal’s design.

“We live in a digital world where people expect, if not demand, the ability to engage with their governments online,” says Rice. “Today, several civilian oversight agencies and police departments still only have PDF forms that the public has to fill out manually and either mail or physically bring into a police station. This is a cumbersome process that leads the most extreme experiences, both positive and negative, to make into case submission systems. Our online intake process not only allows the public to submit their compliments and compliments easily, it also allows the public to remain informed along each step of the process by simply using their unique tracking number.”

Officer interaction cards

In addition to the launching of the online portal, Aguilar and the PCOB Executive Committee (composed of the board’s chair and vice chair) have partnered with CPD Interim Chief Latroy “Tito” Durrette to create a police interaction card that community members can request from a CPD officer after a positive or negative interaction.

This practice of police accountability and transparency is modeled after other efforts around the country and nearby jurisdictions. The card includes a space to write down the officer’s name, the reason for the encounter, date of the incident, and a report number (if applicable).

The card also provides the contact information and a link (or QR code) to the complaint form for the CPD Internal Affairs Division and the PCOB respectively. Officers will carry cards printed in English and Spanish.

Community perceptions survey

Lastly, under the direction of Aguilar, the PCOB will be launching a survey to gain insight and a pulse on the community member’s thoughts and experiences with the CPD and the PCOB. The purpose of the survey is to better understand the sentiments of Charlottesvillians to improve upon the services offered by these institutions.

The anonymous and confidential survey will be deployed by utilizing Survey123 (a product of ESRI’s ArcGIS) to allow for the PCOB, City Council, the city manager, the CPD and the community at large to see where in the city these relationships can benefit from more attention and to assess performance across time.

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