Five members of a new, predominantly civilian review board with broad powers to investigate complaints of misconduct against D.C. police officers have been sworn in by Mayor Marion Barry.
In a brief ceremony Thursday at the District Building, Barry said the board "will be the fairest and most effective mechanism possible to ensure that the rights of the citizens of the District of Columbia will be fully protected."
The board, created last year by the City Council over rank-and-file police objections, is the first external watchdog agency over police conduct here in almost a decade and the first ever to have broad investigative authority, including subpoena power. Previously, the city had a weak advisory review board from 1948 until it was phased out in 1973. Since then, complaints have been handled internally by the police department itself.
Armed with a $150,000 annual budget, the new board can gather information on citizen complaints, hear evidence and recommend disciplinary action to the chief of police. If the chief rejects or reduces a recommended penalty, he must give his reasons to the mayor, who can overrule him.
Recommendations by the board can range from a reprimand to dismissal.
The board, officially called the D.C. Civilian Complaint Review Board, will have seven members when fully constituted. Two members selected by the City Council are scheduled to be sworn in next week. The five sworn in Thursday include three selected by the mayor, one by the police chief and one by the police officers' union.
Chairman of the board is Goler Butcher, 56, a professor at Howard University law school and former member of the D.C. Bar Association's board of professional responsibility. She was named chairman by Barry.
The other two Barry appointees are Joe Tom Easely, 41, a professor at Antioch Law School who has been active with homosexual rights groups, and Frank E. Braxton Sr., a Ward 5 advisory neighborhood commissioner and chairman of the 5th District police citizens advisory committee.
Capt. Jimmy Wilson, 36, head of the police department's homicide branch, was named to be board by Police Chief Maurice T. Turner. Wilson is a 14-year veteran of the force.
Named by the police union, the International Brotherhood of Police Officers, was J.C. Stamps, 34, a detective in the 1st District. He is a 12-year veteran and a member of the executive board of IBPO Local 442.
The City Council appointees to the board are Joel McLeod, 71, a retired Bureau of Labor Statistics employe, who has been active in the Edgewood Civic Association in Northeast Washington, and Gabrielle Edgecomb, 61, a member of the D.C. Community Humanities Council, who has taught English at the University of the District of Columbia and at public and private high schools here.
All seven members will serve three-year terms.