Newburgh Leaders Seek Subpoena Power For Citizen Police Oversight Board

Newburgh Leaders Seek Subpoena Power For Citizen PD Board

Newburgh, NY - August 14, 2020

Ali T. Muhammad gets a seat at the table. Newburgh resident, local activist, and public servant Ali T. Muhammad has been selected to be part of the City of Newburgh Police Community Review Board. The City of Newburgh established a Police Community Relations and Review Board (PCRRB) with the goal of community outreach and education. In addition to regular monthly business meetings, the PCRRB shall hold public meetings in each ward a minimum of once each year for the purposes of inviting and facilitating public discussion between the City of Newburgh Police Department and City residents regarding law enforcement and services, crime and crime prevention and community relations within the City of Newburgh. The PCRRB will also handling the filing of complaints. Complaints concerning police conduct shall be filed with the PCRRB and the City of Newburgh Police Department as provided in this subsection. Learn more about the PCRRB here:

Muhammad was nominated by Councilwoman Ramona Monteverde to represent Ward 2 on the seven-member board. “We had so many people wanting to be involved," Monteverde said. “Now we have seven passionate members. There was no leadership before.” Mayor Torrance Harvey has also been pushing for subpoena power for the community board, which the council finalized after a 20-minute discussion at Thursday’s work session.

While the City is actively engaged in bringing about change, the community is building, Muhammad is a member of Next Step Hudson Valley Coalition who's mission is actively seeking to end systemic racism, discrimination, and police brutality. Muhammad believes some officers might actually want the board to have subpoena power. That way, he said, an officer who reveals sensitive information before the board wouldn’t be seen as “telling” on other officers. “If you didn’t do anything wrong, but you’re afraid of this blue wall or you’re afraid of whatever, here’s a way out,” Muhammad said. “Come tell the truth, because you’re not going to purger yourself.” 

According to the National Association for Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement (NACOLE), police oversight can benefit not only the individual complainant, but also the larger community, police and sheriff’s departments, and even elected or appointed officials.   The actual benefits that occur depend on how well the involved groups work together and the type of model implemented. The addition of subpoena power for the PSCRB would help enable transparency and accountability. This a critical step to ensure the PSCRB, as an independent oversight agency, would have the ability to obtain necessary information in order to be an effective overseer. If you're not at the table and demanding transparency and accountability you're on the menu wondering what is going on and who's in charge.


Ali for New York | @ali4newyork

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