Richmond P.D. hires civilian to increase transparency

Richmond police is changing how it handles complaints against the department. The city of Richmond has ditched the name Internal Affairs for the Office of Professional Accountability or OPA and for the first time, a civilian will now handle those complaints.

"It's a place where the public can lodge a complaint against an employee or they can complain about any one of the police services we offer," says Richmond Police Chief Allywn Brown.

"Some of the things we're looking at are enhancing transparency, providing accessibility assuring accountability," says Eddie Aubrey Office of Professional Accountability Manager. 

Aubrey met some of the officers he'll be dealing with at a police line-up Thursday.  His new title will not only deal with officer misconduct cases formally handled by Internal Affairs, but he'll also act as a mediator between the police and the public. 

"Our police community relationships are stronger than they have ever been. These relationships are all based on trust. Trust is fragile," says Brown. 

The OPA's office is moving from the police department to Richmond's Civic Center.  This will give the public more accessibility and less pressure when making reports. 

"I think it's beneficial especially being a member of community to walk into City Hall versus going to the police department," says Richmond Police Officer Joe England.  

Aubrey also agrees. saying the move will benefit the public as a whole. 

"[It] gives them the opportunity to talk to someone who is not a police officer.  Who's not a sworn member, who is there to go ahead and make sure it is fair an unbiased," Aubrey said.

Aubrey's background includes more than 15 years as a police officer in Santa Monica and Los Angeles.  He was a prosecutor in Seattle and a part time judge. 

“When you're a judge, you're looking at the facts, you're looking at the rule of law, you're judging credibility of people," says Aubrey. 

It’s his pedigree that Richmond's officers think will be a welcomed change.  Although, now that the job is held by a civilian, that part may take some getting used to. 

"The police and law enforcement have to adapt to change and we'll do that. And from an association stand point we'll be able to do that as well," says Richmond Police Officer Association President Benjamin Therriault.