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 worked with Sivil 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 community members to file complaints about incidents of alleged misconduct by Charlottesville Police Department employees directly with the Board of Directors for investigation, request a review by the Board of investigations of internal affairs, to submit recommendations to improve the services of the council or CPD and to submit compliments following positive interactions with CPD officers.
Other features of the portal include the ability to track the progress of complaints or requests for review as they are reviewed by the Board and access to aggregate data regarding the number of complaints filed. in previous years, the type of complaint and the disciplinary outcome of complaint investigations.
The PCOB is in the process of releasing informational videos informing the public about the purpose of the portal and how to navigate its various features. Once completed, the videos will be uploaded to the FAQ section of the portal.
The portal is accessible online at Charlottesvilleva.siviltech.com.
The PCBB will continue to receive and process complaints and/or allegations received by email or fax. Additionally, community members who are not comfortable with technology products always have the opportunity to raise concerns, allegations of police misconduct and/or compliments by contacting the PCOB office number or by visiting the PCOB office located at the town hall.
Regarding Sivil’s selection, Aguilar says, “In my experience in civilian oversight, I have used different software and programs designed for investigations and case management. I was drawn to Sivil because of the company’s stated and demonstrable commitment to putting civilians first.
Aguilar also says market research for similar monitoring tools shows that many products don’t sufficiently consider usability by members of the public.
“Many comparable products in this market were designed with or with law enforcement in mind. Mr. Rice and his team are dedicated to providing a product for this niche area,” says Aguilar, “I have been very impressed with Mr. Rice’s availability, professionalism and expertise throughout the customization process. By choosing Sivil, I am convinced that we are providing the community with a product that takes into account the values of accessibility, transparency and intentionality of the community.
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,” Rice says. “Today, many civilian oversight agencies and police departments still only have PDF forms that the public must manually fill out and mail or physically bring to a police station. This is a process heavy that leads the most extreme experiences, both positive and negative, to turn into case submission systems.Our online admissions process not only makes it easy for the public to submit compliments and compliments, but it also allows the public to stay informed every step of the way by simply using their unique tracking number.
Officer Interaction Cards
In addition to the launch of the online portal, Aguilar and the PCOB Executive Committee (composed of the Chairman and Vice Chairman of the Board) partnered with Acting CPD Chief Latroy “Tito” Durrette to create a Police Interaction Map that community members can request from a DPC Officer after a positive or negative interaction.
This practice of police accountability and transparency draws inspiration from other efforts across the country and neighboring jurisdictions. The card includes space to record the officer’s name, the reason for the encounter, the date of the incident and a report number (if applicable).
The card also provides 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
Finally, under Aguilar’s leadership, PCOB will launch a survey to get insight and pulse on community members’ thoughts and experiences with CPD and PCOB. The purpose of the survey is to better understand the feelings of the people of Charlottesvillians to improve the services offered by these institutions.
The anonymous and confidential survey will be deployed using Survey123 (an ArcGIS product from ESRI) to enable the PCOB, City Council, City Manager, CPD and the community at large to see where in the city these relationships can benefit from more attention and evaluate performance over time.