One year later, where is the Birmingham Civilian Review Board? 

The Birmingham Civilian Review Board

Members of The Birmingham Civilian Review Board from left-right: Reverend Lawrence Conaway, T. Marie King (Chair), Annetta Nunn, and Victor Revill. A fifth seat on the board is vacant.

Michael Harrington, WBHM

Tuesday marks one year since Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin announced the launch of the Birmingham Civilian Review Board. But to the public, the board doesn’t seem to be active. 

Civilian review boards typically take public complaints of police misconduct and investigate them in an effort to hold officers accountable when they step over the line. They’re designed to make recommendations independent of police departments. Such boards have grown in popularity since the killing of George Floyd by a Minnesota police officer in 2020. 

When Woodfin spoke about the board last year, he said it was part of reimagining public safety. Woodfin added the board would have representation from across the city.

“This task force puts moms and dads, faith leaders, and community activists, young professionals and more at the same table as our police force,” said Woodfin. 

Since then, there have been at least three people killed by the Birmingham Police Department

“It made me question after all of these police-involved killings, why has the civilian review board remained silent in regards to what’s taking place with policing,” said Eric Hall, a community activist and co-leader of the Black Lives Matter Birmingham chapter. 

He said he tried to contact the board by calling people who are either a part of it or who oversee it.

“Community members do not know how to make grievances regarding police. It’s not something that’s spelled out clearly,” Hall said. 

However, there is a website for the Birmingham Civilian Review Board that gives information about how to file a complaint. But it can’t take complaints online. Instead, members of the public can mail in a form. 

A statement from the city says they assembled a board, held listening sessions and researched practices in comparable cities in the past year. Other cities that officials have been studying are: Durham, North Carolina; Atlanta, Georgia; Denver, Colorado; Cambridge, Massachusetts; and St. Louis, Missouri. But they say more time is needed to adequately launch the program. The statement also mentioned time is being devoted to evaluate the needs of the city’s residents. 

Right now, the board is short one member. According to the statement, once that five-seat panel is full, officials can move on to the public portion of the work. They expect that to happen “in the near future.” 


Birmingham City Council moves toward approval of cannabis dispensaries

Birmingham has taken “the first step” on the road to legalizing medical marijuana. The City Council voted Tuesday to approve an ordinance authorizing medical cannabis dispensaries to operate within Birmingham city limits.

The landmark Voting Rights Act faces further dismantling in case from Alabama

The law is once again on the chopping block ­— this time on the question of how state legislatures may draw congressional district lines when the state's voters are racially polarized.

Gulf States rank at the bottom for climate-adapted housing. Organizers want to change that.

As natural disasters and extreme weather become more frequent in the Gulf South, a new report hopes to be a road map to providing more climate-adapted housing.

How Dr. Emily Fortney is using her clinical psychology work to help pregnant people

Suicide is a leading cause of death in women, and mood and anxiety disorders make perinatal risks more complicated. Dr. Fortney’s work is focused on this issue.

Regions Bank to refund $141M for illegal overdraft fees

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau found that between 2018 and 2021, Regions was charging overdraft fees on some ATM withdrawals as well as some debit card purchases, even after the bank told the customers they had enough funds to cover the transactions.

Jackson’s water crisis put new attention on its longstanding lead contamination issue

Jackson’s water issues echo infrastructure struggles across the Gulf South, resulting in nearly 1,800 lawsuits over the past year and attention from the EPA.

More Crime Coverage