NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — A renewed push from Norfolk community leaders hopes to build a bridge between the community and police with the creation of a Citizen’s Review Board.

In a letter sent Wednesday to Norfolk City Council Members and the City Manager, community organizers and two ministers detail why they feel now is the time for council to work on enacting a board.

The idea was first brought up by City Manager Chip Filer in the summer of 2020, where he explained a plan to launch and fund a citizen review board and oversight panel. 

A resolution was brought to the City Council during their March 8 session, but it wasn’t brought up for consideration after pushback from community and council members.

Robert Bracknell and Brandon Randleman are spearheading the push to get the ball rolling on a Citizen’s Review Board. Bracknell says the March resolution was performative and would have created a panel that lacked real powers to enact change.

“It needs to have powers to compel people. It needs to have powers to compel the production of documents. And it needs the ability to make recommendations that the city takes seriously and that the city has to answer,” he said.

After six months of inaction, Bracknell says they need to start a dialogue.

“That kind of open dialogue with the citizens is what we should expect of our representatives in city government,” said Bracknell.

He and Randleman hope the creation of a Citizen’s Review Board will create a safe space for more than just an open dialogue.

“We do not want to come in and just tell the city what to do. What we want to do is come in and work with the city on this matter. We want police at the table. We want community advocates at the table. We would like to see civil rights organizations at the table,” said Randleman.

They say they don’t want the board to just be seen as a means to chase after police.

“But is a board that can provide recommendations from community stakeholders on what’s the best way that we can improve community and policing relations,” said Randleman.

The hope is to start meaningful conversations with city leaders to create a body meant for oversight and improving relationships with the community.

“Nobody here is anti-police. In fact, we’re pro-police, in that we’re pro-professional police. And we believe that this oversight board is a key component in helping the city leadership raise the level of policing in the city,” said Bracknell.

This isn’t the only solution to solving gun violence, but organizers say it’s a meaningful step towards finding a way to end the gun violence we’re all too familiar with.

If you’d like to get involved, you can contact Robert Bracknell at 757-287-4704 or Brandon Randleman at brandleman13@gmail.com.